In a briefing Thursday afternoon, President Trump laid out the administration’s guidelines for “Opening Up America Again.” The plan, which cedes decisions to the states, represents a massive retreat from just two days ago when Trump boasted about having “total authority.”
While Trump offered a lot of hope and bravado about the prospect of a reemerging economy, specifics were scarce in regards to putting his carefully scripted words into real action.
The President’s plan laid out three distinct phases for states to follow in regards to reopening.
- A softer lockdown, with continued social distancing, school closures, socializing limited to groups of 10 or less, minimized non-essential travel and shelter in place for the most vulnerable. Elective surgeries can resume, and larger venues such as gyms, sporting venues, and places of worship can open with strict social distancing policies,
- Vulnerable individuals remain sheltered in place, non-essential travel can resume, and social gatherings can increase to up to 50 people. Telework is encouraged, while schools and large venues can operate under more moderate social distancing policies.
- A return to relative normalcy, in which vulnerable individuals can resume publican interactions, but are encouraged to practice social distancing. Employers can begin to operate as normal.
Under the guidelines, states will need to demonstrate a consistent decrease in COVID-19 cases over a 2-week period along with a “robust” system of testing health care workers.
With the requirement of a sustained decrease in cases, it’s clear that this will be a slow and arduous process.
Nevertheless, the President hopes that some smaller states may be able to reopen even earlier than his often touted May 1st date.
Trump insisted that the U.S. has “passed the peak” of the coronavirus outbreak, but it seems far too early to tell. Yesterday, the country reported over 2,400 coronavirus deaths, the most in a single day since the pandemic began. Today, 2,162 deaths were recorded as of the writing of this post.
The United States has now reported over 677,407 total coronavirus cases with 34,605 deaths.
The guidelines for “Opening Up America Again” lay out clear goals, but lack any real information on how to accomplish them.
At the end of the day, it’s clear Trump is passing the buck to states to deal with this crisis on their own, hoping they take the blame for his late actions and failures.
The problem? Without a robust system of testing, there will be no way for a state to begin the process to return to “normal.”
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly told CNN Thursday that her state was having “difficulty accessing tests and what you need to administer tests.”
For the indeterminate future, it’s clear that these guidelines don’t change much, if anything at all.
States and individuals will have to remain vigilant in pursuing preventative measures, and it’s not entirely apparent how much support they will get from the federal government.
As of now, the guidelines for “Opening Up America Again” feel more like a plan to blame the states when things continue along this painful trajectory.
You can read the full guidelines from the administration below.