Rift between White House and states threatens a cohesive response.

Even as the sense of crisis in New York was easing, it was deepening in neighboring New Jersey, where new infections were surging and shortages of tests were forcing thousands of residents to wait for hours simply to get swabbed, and then days to receive results.

In Bergen County, adjacent to New York City and the hardest hit of New Jersey’s 21 counties, more than 10,000 infections have been detected.

Across the state, nearly 2,500 people have died.

“To put that in perspective, that is more than the number of New Jersey people who gave their lives in the Korean and Vietnam wars,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at his daily briefing on Monday. “These numbers hit us right square in the gut. Our hearts are with every family.”

The state’s tracking website showed that 118,097 tests had been reported, with more than 64,000 positive results — a rate that suggested much wider infection.

The president’s reversal raised profound constitutional questions about the real extent of his powers and set him once again on a potential collision course with the states. For weeks, he sought to shift blame to the governors for any failures in handling the virus, presenting himself as merely a supporting player. Now as the tide begins to turn, he is claiming the lead role.

“The president of the United States calls the shots,” he said at his evening news briefing. “They can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.”

Asked what provisions of the Constitution gave him the power to override the states if they wanted to remain closed, he said, “Numerous provisions,” without naming any. “When somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total.”

The schism threatens widespread confusion if the president and governors end up at loggerheads over how and when to begin resuming some semblance of normal life in the country once the risk of the virus starts to fade sufficiently. Conflicting orders by Washington and state capitals would leave businesses and workers in the untenable position of trying to decide which level of government to listen to when it comes to reopening doors and returning to work.

The shift was just the latest of many conflicting messages sent by Mr. Trump during the course of the pandemic. At various points, he has played down the seriousness of the coronavirus, then called it the most serious situation the nation has ever confronted. He has defended China for its handling of the original outbreak, and assailed China for its handling of the original outbreak. He has called for strict social distancing, then called for reopening by Easter, then called off the plan to reopen.

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The nation’s food supply chain is showing signs of strain, as increasing numbers of workers are falling ill with the coronavirus in meat processing plants, warehouses and grocery stores.

The spread of the virus through the food and grocery industry is expected to cause disruptions in production and distribution of products like pork, industry executives, labor unions and analysts have warned in recent days. The issues follow nearly a month of stockpiling of food and other essentials by panicked shoppers that have tested supply networks to the limits.

Industry leaders and observers acknowledge that the shortages could increase, but they insist it is more of an inconvenience than a major problem. People will have enough to eat; they just may not have the usual variety. The food supply remains robust, they say, with hundreds of millions of pounds of meat in cold storage. There is no evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted through food or its packaging, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Still, the illnesses have the potential to cause shortages lasting weeks for a few products, creating further anxiety for Americans already shaken by how difficult it can be to find high-demand staples like flour and eggs.

In one of the most significant signs of pressure since the pandemic began, Smithfield Foods became the latest company to announce a shutdown, announcing Sunday that it would close its processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., after 230 workers became ill with the virus. The plant produces more than 5 percent of the nation’s pork.

“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” Smithfield’s chief executive, Kenneth M. Sullivan, said in a statement.

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, Marc Santora, Annie Correal, Michael Corkey, Peter Eavis, Jan Hoffman, Miriam Jordan, Matt Phillips, Kate Taylor, Davie Yaffe-Bellany.

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