US President Donald Trump has claimed he has "total" authority to decide how and when to reopen the economy after weeks of strict physical-distancing guidelines aimed at fighting the novel coronavirus.
But, Governors fight back after US president insists he 'calls the shots' in deciding measures against coronavirus outbreak. Governors from both parties were quick to push back, noting they have primary responsibility for ensuring public safety in their states and would decide when it was safe to begin a return to normal operations.
Trump would not offer specifics about the source of his asserted power, which he claimed, despite constitutional limitations, was absolute.
"When somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total," Trump said on Monday at the White House. "The governors know that."
The comments came not long after the opposition Democratic leaders in the northeast and along the West Coast announced separate state agreements to coordinate their efforts to scale back stay-at-home orders or reopen businesses on their own timetables.
The US constitution gives public health and safety responsibilities primarily to state and local officials.
The pandemic, which originated in China last December, has wreaked havoc in the US, which now has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths. More than 582,000 are infected and 23,649 people have died across the country.
Anxious to put the crisis behind him, Trump has been discussing with senior aides how to roll back federal social-distancing recommendations that expire at the end of the month.