The first case of the new coronavirus in the United States was reported in January, but it took nearly three months — as the virus spread across the world — for the Trump administration to declare a national emergency. Diagnostic tests for COVID-19 are still not widely available.

Across the country, state and local leaders are left on their own to determine their response, ranging from severely limiting public exposure by establishing a curfew in Hoboken, New Jersey, to more lax guidelines on social gathering.

WGBH News Analyst Charlie Sennott told Boston Public Radio on Monday that this has left municipal leaders on the front lines.

"What I do think is possible in this moment, and I love seeing, is when we have governors like (New York's Andrew) Cuomo or our own governor (Charlie) Baker who are taking up leadership roles and being much more clear," said Sennott. "There's an interesting global moment, at least for us in our country and our commonwealth in Massachusetts, where local leaders, local voices, are calm, clear, and consistent, it's a real chance for leadership to shine."

In Massachusetts, Gov. Baker declared astate of emergency on March 10, and over the weekend issued an emergency order limiting gatherings to 25 individuals and prohibiting on-premises consumption of food or drink at bars and restaurants until April 6.

As leaders determine the best way to enforce social distancing and ensure safety nets are available to protect people from disruption in their work and lives, Sennott said local leaders have an opportunity to work together to promote a unified response.

"It's a real opportunity to do what we do best, which is to pull together. I'm seeing this on a local level, it's almost like a wave cresting over the failings of the federal government," he said.