Analysis: COVID-19 pandemic fallout tracks nation's political divide

A person holds a sign while gathering with others to protest stay-at-home orders put into place due to the COVID-19 outbreak Tuesday, April 21, 2020, outside the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo. Several hundred gathered to protest the restrictions and urge the reopening of businesses closed in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus . (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

WASHINGTON (AP) - America's entrenched political divide is now playing out over matters of life and death.

Republican governors, urged on by President Donald Trump, are taking the first steps toward reopening parts of their states' economies in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and without adhering to the president's own guidelines. Democratic governors are largely keeping strict stay-at-home orders and nonessential business closures in place, resisting small pockets of Trump-aligned protesters and public pressure from the president.

The fault lines are familiar, exposing many of the same regional and demographic divisions that have increasingly come to define U.S. politics, as well as the stark differences in the ways the parties view the role of government in American life. But the stakes go far beyond the normal risks and rewards of an election cycle, instead putting the health and well-being of millions of Americans in the balance.