The Atlantic Politics Daily: It’s Up to the States Now

How the leaders of the two most populous cities in America are handling the pandemic. Plus: Save the 2020 election and vote by mail, this law professor argues.

It’s Friday, March 27. President Donald Trump signed the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill after it passed Congress today.

In today’s newsletter: How the leaders of the two most populous cities in America are handling the pandemic. Plus: Vote-by-mail ideas, and tips from astronauts on how to handle social distancing.



As the White House faces mixed reviews for its pandemic-mitigation efforts, governors and mayors are deciding on responses within their states and cities, on their own.

From Los Angeles to New Orleans to New York City, many local leaders are sounding the alarm: They don’t have the equipment or staffing they need to handle a COVID-19 outbreak that they anticipate has yet to reach its peak.

New York state bore the brunt of the pandemic early. Take New York City, whose more than 25,000 reported cases comprise the majority of the state’s outbreak. There, emergency room doctors are overwhelmed and Mayor Bill de Blasio has turned to berating President Trump on national television in a plea for more assistance. The good cop, bad-cop partnership between Governor Andrew Cuomo (who’s received praise for his leadership and his negotiations with Trump) and de Blasio (who hasn’t done as well on that front) might prove useful when it comes to securing federal aid, my colleague Russell Berman reports.

While New York City’s future depends on the delicate dance between Cuomo and de Blasio, Los Angeles’s reality is a little different.

There, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s close coordination with California Governor Gavin Newsom has led to synchronized action across California, Garcetti told our L.A.-based writer Todd Purdum. But that doesn’t mean Southern California won’t be ravaged. Here’s what Garcetti is thinking.

And then there’s the rapid spread outside the major metropolitan areas of the East and West Coasts. The city of New Orleans is rapidly becoming “the next front in the fight against the pandemic,” my colleague Vann Newkirk reports. Here’s his analysis of Louisiana’s likely fate.

—Christian Paz

(Alfredo Estrella / AFP / Getty)

The jacaranda tree-lined Paseo de la Reforma in downtown Mexico City is nearly empty after the city’s government shut down most public activity. See our photo editor Alan Taylor’s collection of the most striking images of the week here.



+ Save the 2020 election. Vote by mail: “It’s a time-tested and straightforward solution, and the time to plan for it is now,” this law professor argues.

+ The weeks of social distancing Americans are being asked to undertake have a lot more in common with the experience of astronauts in space, with a big exception, Marina Koren reports. Astronauts expected to be isolated; we didn’t.

+ Do you live in a cramped New York apartment? If you answered yes, you still have to stay there. Protect other Americans and don’t leave the city, Nathan Thornburgh argues.

You can keep up with The Atlantic’s most crucial coronavirus coverage here.


Today’s newsletter was written by Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters.

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