States rushing to reopen are risking residents’ lives and health by eliminating stay-at-home orders and reducing restrictions on gatherings too early, potentially fueling a resurgence of COVID-19 that could harm the nation.
The phased plan for reopening proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration is a good one if implemented with an abundance of caution, though it will require the support of rapid and readily available testing to balance keeping Americans safe while reopening the economy. The problem is Georgia and a cluster of other states — South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida — aren’t following the guidance.
Though the president has been inconsistent, sometimes pushing for particular dates such as Easter or May 1, the plan he put forward proposes criteria for opening state by state based on evidence to be evaluated by state and local officials. At each stage, the same hygiene and cleanliness precautions would be observed, and sick individuals would still isolate at home.
The initial requirements are a downward trajectory in cases and reports of the illness over a period of 14 days accompanied by fewer documented cases or fewer positive tests with the same or more testing over the same period before even beginning the phased opening. The guidance also requires ensuring hospitals have adequate capacity and implement expanded testing for health care workers. However, numerous experts say this expansion of testing should be broader.
States should meet the above criteria in each stage before moving to the next step, and restrictions should snap back into place if needed to curb a resurgence of cases. Each phase increases interaction, the kinds of businesses that can open, the precautions to be taken for vulnerable individuals as well as the criteria to move to the next phase.
The states listed above simply aren’t following the guidance. That is more than irresponsible; it is dangerous.
Missouri is set to reopen on May 4, as is Joplin. We do not want to join the states rushing reopening. At a minimum, the proposed phased approach should be followed.
Gov. Mike Parson, Mayor Gary Shaw, walk, don’t run, to reopen our state and community.
The guidance framework also will need to be supplemented and supported by expanded testing and contact tracing for positive cases, essential tools that need to become more readily available. As we reopen, we also will need to continue social distancing.
The president’s plan is good, but only if it is followed.