As the United States has struggled to contain the coronavirus over the past two months, President Trump has increasingly put the onus on states.


“States can do their own testing. … We’re the federal government. We’re not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing.”

Purchasing medical supplies?

“Whatever the states can get, they should be getting. I say we’re sort of a backup for the states.”

States bidding against each other for supplies?

“They have to work that out.”

States refusing to issue stay-at-home orders?

“There are some states that don’t have much of a problem.”

Over the past month, Trump has blamed nearly a dozen entities for his coronavirus response, but perhaps none has been more directly affected by Trump’s buck-passing than state governments. You can watch examples of him casting blame their way in the video above.

For nearly a month after the United States declared a public health emergency, hospital labs were required to obtain approval from the Food and Drug Administration to develop their own coronavirus tests. States were initially discouraged from testing certain patients who exhibited symptoms due to a lack of reliable tests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. States are developing their own testing systems now as Trump conceded Thursday that there would be no nationwide testing system.

The Trump administration has suggested that the Strategic National Stockpile was not designed to supplement states (it was) and has said states should have built up their own medical stockpiles, even as the federal government failed to restock its stockpile for years. And amid the nationwide medical supply shortage, Trump waited nine days after signing the Defense Production Act order to use it.

He has blamed states for failing to acquire medical supplies, even as he has forced them to bid against the federal government, other countries and each other. Trump’s administration has intercepted shipments intended for states and forced states to bid in the private market for supplies procured overseas by the federal government.

Even as Trump has stressed stay-at-home guidelines from the CDC, he has refused to say that the eight states without statewide stay-at-home orders should have them, instead deferring to governors. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said every state should have a stay-at-home order to curb the spread of the virus.

Less than a month ago, with fewer than 5,000 publicly reported coronavirus cases in the United States and 85 deaths, Trump was asked whether the buck stopped with him.

“Yeah, normally. But I think when you hear the — you know, this has never been done before in this country,” Trump said on March 16, touting his administration’s coronavirus testing.

Since then, more than 460,000 Americans have contracted the virus and more than 16,400 have died. The testing system that Trump touted still lags behind other countries’ testing per capita. And as of Wednesday, the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases was at a high in 26 states.