The White House has released a plan that states can use to lift lockdown orders and other restrictions in place to limit the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
Announced on Thursday and known as ‘Opening Up America’, the plan is intended to run in three phases. State governors retain the authority to decide when to proceed.
Speaking to the media, President Trump said that “We are not opening all at once but one careful state at a time and some states will be able to open up sooner than others. Some states are not in the kind of trouble that others are in.”
Three Phases for Reopening States after COVID-19
White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx outlined the phases as follows:
- To reach Phase One, a state must have plans in place to protect the safety and health of workers in essential industries. The state must be able to independently supply medical equipment and personal protective equipment. Cases of COVID-19 must be following a downward pattern with reduced infection numbers and positive tests for at least 14 days. The state must also be able to treat all patients and increase its intensive care beds on short notice. Vulnerable individuals will continue to shelter in place in the first Phase, and schools will remain closed.
- In Phase Two, a state must display a continued trend of fewer cases and positive tests. Public and private gatherings will be restricted to 50 people. Non-essential travel can resume. Schools can reopen, and elective surgeries can be restarted if there is the capacity to do so. Businesses can resume full staffing in Phase Two.
- Phase Three is essentially a return to normal, although the White House calls this the ‘new norm’. Hygiene practices and social distancing should continue, as there will still be a risk of community spread from asymptomatic carriers.
Full details are yet to be revealed, and it is unclear whether governors will follow this outline verbatim or create their own rules for reopening. As was the case with locking states down, governors have the final say in matters concerning their citizens and businesses.
There has already been criticism for the outline, with House Speaker and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi calling the system “vague and inconsistent”. This sentiment could change if the White House offers clarification in the coming days and weeks.
Stock Market Confidence is Growing
Many investors will be relieved that the White House is proactively developing a set of criteria to reopen the economy. Dow futures were up 800 points on Thursday, indicating that confidence is continuing to grow in the market.
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