Olivia Messer The Daily Beast March 12, 2020, 3:43 AM CDT
As residents of Washington and New York battled the two largest clusters of the 2019 novel coronavirus in the United States, new restrictions on public assembly meant to ease the deadly crisis raised the question: Just how aggressive might authorities get?
U.S. cases of the new coronavirus had, as of Wednesday, topped 1,000, while Republicans in Congress have been briefed on the likelihood that most Americans will eventually be exposed to the infection, and the World Health Organization finally declared the outbreak a global pandemic. President Trump on Wednesday also used a 9 p.m. Oval Office address to announce a confused, partial travel ban between the United States and Europe, along with a variety of measures geared at steadying the economy.
But on Thursday, specifically in the Seattle area and in a suburb of New York City, life was about to get considerably more eerie.