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In battle against COVID-19, what matters most is your ZIP code

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- The coronavirus doesn't care what you learned in civics class. It has turned the concept of federalism on its head.

In a crisis, taxpayers expect that local, state, and federal government will work together to serve and protect the public.

During the COVID-19 crisis, federal government has lagged behind. President Trump thinks the response is about him. He hates being criticized, and so he's constantly on a war footing -- not against the pandemic, but against the media.

Meanwhile, it's the nation's governors -- Democrats like New York's Andrew Cuomo, and Republicans like Ohio's Mike DeWine -- who have risen to the occasion and taken up the reins of leadership.

The public has noticed. According to a recent CBS/YouGov Poll, in the battle against COVID-19, Americans are more likely to trust their state governor over Trump -- 66% to 44%. A Monmouth University Poll found that 50% of Americans thought Trump had done a good job in dealing with the outbreak, while 72% give high marks to their state's governor.

In this war, states and local communities are the tip of the spear. That's where the stakes are highest. It's where people are dying.

 

In America 2020, geography is destiny. How seriously Americans take the threat of contracting the virus, the amount of actual danger we're in, and the timeline we're facing has everything to do with what state we live in.

It's ironic. Before COVID-19, Americans wasted a lot of time dividing ourselves up over race, religion, gender, ethnicity and class. Now, none of that matters. What counts is what part of the country we live in.

Americans haven't cared this much about what state flag they live under since Gettysburg.

New York is ground zero, with at least 10 times more cases than any other state: New York Gov. Cuomo has warned other states not to be cavalier. Our time will come, he said. This scourge is coming to a neighborhood near you.

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