What are the advantages and disadvantages of allowing each individual state to determine its own response to the covid-19 crisis? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of the federal government stepping in to help states with coronavirus responses?

Advantages of states being able to determine individual responses include that they are more likely to know the specific situations in their respective areas. However, lax travel policies still allow the virus to spread. An advantage of the federal government intervening is that it has overarching power and more resources. However, it is large and may struggle to adapt to specific situations in a timely manner.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This question gives an answer a lot of potential avenues to explore, as the answer is subjective. There isn't necessarily a correct answer. This is especially true since one person's advantage might be a disadvantage in somebody else's opinion.

One disadvantage of allowing individual states to plan and implement a COVID19 response is that the individual responses do not present a unified front against the virus itself. Some states have severely limited travel into their state, while other states remain relatively open. These individual responses do not work well to halt the spread of the virus on a nationwide scale. A colleague of mine humorously said that limiting travel in certain areas is akin to having a urinating section in a pool. While gross, the metaphor does work. The urine will spread throughout the pool through diffusion, but it will take longer if the urination is only happening in one spot. Shutting down certain areas while leaving other areas open will slow the virus, but it probably won't stop it completely.

An advantage of allowing individual states to choose their responses is that individual states can implement their own tactics depending on individual situations. Each state can personalize their response based on the current threat to their state. The tactic is like local anesthesia as opposed to general anesthesia.

As for the federal government responses, an advantage is that a single entity is in charge. A soccer team with 8 head coaches isn't likely to be as effective as a team with 1 head coach and 7 assistants that specialize in different facets of the team. The federal government is the head coach, and the states are the specializing assistants. A disadvantage is that the United States and the federal government is large. It struggles to respond to changes in a quick and efficient manner.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team