2020 brought us a pandemic that quickly transformed our daily lives and brought severe economic disruption. Against this backdrop, we have a country deeply divided on major political and cultural issues and long-simmering tensions, a few of which have erupted. Our constitutional system of federalism, which allows states and local governments to act separately and independently of the federal government—as only they possess “police power” to protect public health and safety—contributes to disparate impacts across cities and sectors, further widening the divide.

California counties were the first to issue shelter-in-place orders to stop the spread of the virus March 16, 2020. California then became the first state to do so March 19, 2020. Many other states followed.

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