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Gavin Newsom, governor of California, speaks during a news conference at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. California is monitoring 8,400 people who flew into its airports from Asia and their close contacts for possible infection from the novel coronavirus, Newsom said. Photographer: Patrick Mouzawak/Bloomberg

This month, federalism is getting a workout in a context as old as the nation itself. COVID-19 may be novel, but epidemics have been unwelcome visitors to American states and cities since the start. And under the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Founders reserved public health emergency powers to the states.

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