The mayors of several major cities in the United States are considering or demanding a reorganization to stem the tide of new COVID-19 cases, but political disagreements between the different jurisdictions prevent a unified and coherent response.
• Read also: All developments of the coronavirus pandemic
• Read also: COVID-19: these places where the authorities are reconfiguring
While reconfigurations have been ordered in recent days, in Melbourne in Australia, Lérida in Spain, Manila in the Philippines or Tangier in Morocco, such decisions remain extremely rare in the most affected country on the planet, where a revival has taken place since June.
Officials in the metropolitan area of the largest city in Texas, Houston, which has approximately as many inhabitants as Melbourne (4.7 million inhabitants), called for a new containment after the detection of 1600 new cases in 24 hours, seven times the level that prompted Melbourne to reconfigure.
“If I were the governor, I would stop things, I would shut everything down for two weeks to get the virus out of force,” Houston mayor Sylvester Turner said this weekend.
But Texas Governor Republican Gregg Abbott has not given in to pressure, at least not yet.
“It was our last best chance to slow down the COVID-19 epidemic,” the governor told local television about his recent decision to make masks mandatory in public places, a measure he had long resisted. . “The next step will be containment,” he warned.
Texas was one of the first states to reopen in the United States on 1er may. The bars reopened on May 22, but the governor had to close them a month later, and he made the wearing of the mask mandatory on July 3.
In Florida, another problem state, more than 15,000 new cases were reported on Sunday, a record, and the number of deaths has also started to increase.
State executive chief Republican Ron DeSantis has so far closed bars, but has refused to make it mandatory to wear a mask or re-trigger confinements throughout Florida, relying on officials cities and counties.
In Miami, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care is seven times higher than it was in March and April, according to the mayor.
“It is out of control,” said mayor Francis Suarez on CNN, adding that the hospitals were not overwhelmed yet.
As for a retraining, “we have to consider it,” he said, deferring to the day when hospitals tell him they can no longer cope with the influx of patients.
In Miami-Dade County (2.7 million people), a third of the tests were positive last week, according to its leader, a Republican, who closed indoor gyms and restaurants.
Disputes between multiple levels of responsibility, in a highly decentralized country, are legion. In California, the mandatory mask order was met with refusal by some sheriffs to control its application.
In Atlanta, Georgia, another southern state where the epidemic is taking off, it is the reverse: the mayor ordered the wearing of the mask, but the governor, a Republican, retorted that this order “was not only an instruction – both non-binding and legally unenforceable ”.
“As clearly stated in the governor’s executive order, no local action can be more or less restrictive,” said governor Brian Kemp, accusing the mayor of not implementing state directives herself.
At least, replied the mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who was herself contaminated, her decree applies to municipal buildings and therefore to Atlanta International Airport.
“It is obvious that our state is not based on scientific data,” criticized the woman, also a potential candidate for running mate Joe Biden, Donald Trump’s Democratic rival to the President.
At the federal level, the strategy of the Donald Trump administration is to make nothing mandatory, but to encourage testing, wearing a mask, closing bars.
“90% of people have to wear masks in public in homes of the epidemic,” said Brett Giroir, of the Department of Health, on Sunday. “Otherwise, we will never take control of the virus.”