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Time and the decisional vacuum: dilemmas of federative (dis)coordination in the face of Covid-19


This article seeks to assess the decision-making diversity of subnational governments in dealing with Covid-19, in terms of agility and intensity of reaction, where time is an essential variable. The actions of subnational managers are considered by the normative production, through decrees. We adopted two cuts, the first being by three subsets: i. governments of the 26 states and the Federal District; ii. 26 capitals; and iii. selected cities. The second consisted in the adoption of the axiom; “rapid social distancing as the most effective measure”, in the face of the pandemic, as prescribed by the WHO. The intensity of the reaction was measured by the number of decrees and the reaction times, considering the interval between the national decree and the subnational decrees. The variations in intensity and reaction time suggest that, in the absence of the Federal Government, the country acted without a common reference, following its own parameters, fragmented and inconsistent with a national strategy to face the pandemic.

Covid-19; Brazilian federalism; Federative coordination; Decision time; Public health system

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