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Coronavirus mask Photo: Kira_Yan/Shutterstock.com

The novel coronavirus—and our federal system of government’s response to it—has thrust states and their leaders into the spotlight. Governors ordinarily eclipsed by federal officials are now the focus of unprecedented attention; some deliver daily COVID-19 updates, watched by millions, describing the healthcare, procurement, and fiscal challenges their states face.

The states’ chief law enforcement officials—state attorneys general (AGs)—are also responding. As the COVID-19 crisis began, AGs in both parties focused on similar issues: cracking down on price gouging for masks and hand sanitizer; enjoining the marketing of bogus cures; warning about charity scams; and enforcing state orders limiting commercial activity. These short-term responses will continue, particularly if a “second wave” of cases crests later this year.

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