Horowitz: State & Local Leaders Step Up on Coronavirus

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

 

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Charlie Baker and Gina Raimondo

As former Mayor of New York City Fiorello LaGuardia famously said, “There is no Republican or Democratic way to pick up the garbage.” The same is surely the case in taking the tough proactive steps and doing the basic blocking and tackling needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic now sweeping our nation.

Fortunately, governors and mayors throughout the country, Republicans and Democrats alike, are taking this age-old truth of competent governance to heart and stepping up to fill a vacuum left by the initial dithering, incompetent and all too partisan response of the Trump Administration.

Republican Governors, such as Mike DeWine (OH), Larry Hogan (MD) and Charlie Baker (MA) and Democratic Governors, such as Andrew Cuomo (NY), JB Pritzker (IL) and our own Gina Raimondo, are making difficult decisions to limit community spread, including closing public schools and banning large public gatherings.  With Mayor of Hoboken Ravi Bhalla leading the way, some cities and states, including New York City, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, are taking the next step and temporarily limiting restaurants and bars to take out and delivery service only (full disclosure Bhalla is a political client of mine).

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In making these decisions, these state and local leaders are being guided by the evidence and the advice of medical experts.  Their public communication is by and large straightforward and accurate, leveling with the public about the fact that the situation will likely get worse before it gets better and providing practical advice on how people can best protect themselves and their families.  This is a welcome contrast from President Trump’s persistent downplaying of the crisis, delivery of misinformation and constant misplaced self-congratulations.

The potent examples of proactive unifying leadership and bottom-up pressure from state and local elected officials for accelerating the availability of tests and for additional funding contributed in large measure to a much improving federal response that is finally beginning to match the scale of the problem.  The recently formed Coronavirus Task Force led by Vice-President Pence is putting trusted public health experts forward every day, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the long-time Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to provide straight talk and a graspable and realistic understanding of the pandemic to the American public.

Similarly, the bi-partisan legislation negotiated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to provide temporary paid sick leave, enhanced unemployment benefits, meals for at-need students whose schools close, among other measures designed to ease the financial hardships created by the pandemic, and to make it easier for people who are sick to stay home from work is speeding its way to adoption.

Americans are coming together to take on this tough, but temporary, problem. For this, we should be grateful to our state and local elected officials. They are showing the rest of us and especially our leaders in our nation’s capital, the way.

 

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Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits, businesses, and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.

As former Mayor of New York City Fiorello LaGuardia famously said, “There is no Republican or Democratic way to pick up the garbage.” The same is surely the case in taking the tough proactive steps and doing the basic blocking and tackling needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic now sweeping our nation.

 
 

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