For two weeks, starting soon, the president may lockdown three states in the Northeast: New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Though on Saturday Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, who said he had just spoken to the president, claims a lockdown was not mentioned.
If the president moves on this, probably announced Saturday or Sunday, it is a serious escalation in the fight against the virus. The tri-state area not only holds millions of people, but houses a good share of U.S. economic might. New York City alone is the nexus of international finance.
As in quarantines already in place in states like California, the lockdown would provide exceptions for necessary activities like banking and shopping for necessary items. But leisure activities, casual travel, and visiting friends and family would be temporarily prohibited.
The enforcement mechanism for such a move would be unprecedented. New Yorkers, not to mention those from New Jersey, are not notoriously happy with edicts from any source that would restrict their normal daily activities. As in other locales, many could just refuse to abide by the measures. Then what?
Enforcement by police or the National Guard? Riots? Armed patrols of the streets? The scenarios are daunting.
The president knows this, as does his team. Therefore if they call for a quarantine of these three states they have likely seen virus numbers that predict a gruesome fate if the current situation goes on unabated by a lockdown.
The national center of the virus is NYC. Multiple people are dying there by the hour. If that rate spreads from the city to the rest of the state, then to the eastern seaboard and beyond, the national picture could go from one of cautious optimism to justified horror. Some have said this virus resembles the fiction of a film or video game.
If the best data says that without a lockdown the resemblance will be more than casual, then whatever the short-term consequences, the president must act.