Here Is Trump's Widely-Criticized New Plan for "Opening Up America Again"
Despite the president’s eagerness to reopen the economy, health officials like Dr. Fauci are still cautioning against lifting restrictions too soon.
President Trump released guidelines Thursday which he says would allow states to take a “phased” approach to reopening, starting as early as May 1, though many governors and public health experts say it’s too early to make such decisions.
During the White House’s Thursday coronavirus press briefing, Trump claimed the widespread shutdowns across the country are “unsustainable,” and that some states would be able to “open sooner than others.” His announcement came the same day that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s current stay-at-home guidelines and closure of non-essential businesses would remain in place until at least May 15. As of Thursday, over 220,000 cases have been confirmed in New York state and over 660,000 cases have been confirmed around the country, which have led to over 34,000 deaths nationwide.
Dr. Anthony Fauci attempted to quell the prospect of reopening the country too soon, and reiterated during the press conference that the country’s road to recovery won’t be like “turning a light switch on and off.”
Trump’s guidelines, titled “Opening Up America Again,” are broken into three different phases.
In order to enter the three phases, states should satisfy a set of criteria including maintaining/proving a downward trajectory of number of cases and symptoms. During the press conference, Dr. Deborah Birx also detailed various “state preparedness responsibilities” which include identifying asymptomatic or immune individuals in communities for potential vaccines and therapies as well as maintaining an adequate supply of personal protective equipment—a criteria that still hasn’t been met in many hospitals around the country.
In states judged to be doing well enough to enter the first phase, people would still be urged to avoid groups larger than 10, maintain the closure of school, and work remotely. However, some businesses like restaurants and movie theaters would be allowed to operate under stringent physical distancing protocols.
In a radio interview on April 15, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said “we do not even have close to the testing capability that we need to be in that position [getting close to zero transmission].
In the second phase scenario, schools could reopen and people would be advised to avoid crowds of more than 50.
In the third phase—pending no sign of virus resurgence, which is a big if—businesses would be allowed unrestricted staffing. Visits to hospitals and nursing homes could also resume and large venues could operate while following some social distiancing protocols. However, in many countries that have already eased social distancing guidelines, there has been a resurgence in coronavirus cases. Public health experts say it’s currently difficult to estimate when the U.S. or world gets to this kind of phase three scenario.
Trump also said, via a Thursday phone call, that some U.S. governors could begin reopening their states by May 1. He also backtracked on claims made earlier in the week that he had the final word when it came to ending social distancing measures in various states, rather than the governors.
“You’re going to call your own shots,” Trump said on the call, according to an audio recording provided to The New York Times “You’re going to be calling the shots. We’ll be standing right alongside of you, and we’re going to get our country open and get it working. People want to get working.”
Despite Trump’s eagerness to reopen the economy, health officials are still cautioning against lifting restrictions too early. FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said on Sunday via a Reuters report that a more comprehensive testing program should be established before stay-at-home orders are lifted.