President Trump on Thursday announced new guidelines for reopening states as soon as May 1 now that the coronavirus appears to be peaking in the US, but he left the decision up to each state’s governor while recommending criteria that would have to be met for each to gradually reopen.
Under the guidelines, states will need to demonstrate a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases over a 14-day period and a “robust” system for testing health-care workers before they can proceed to a phased opening.
The phases, as described by task-force member Dr. Deborah Birx include:
- Phase 1, which recommends continued social distancing, closure of schools, teleworking and sheltering in place for vulnerable individuals. Nonessential travel would be discouraged, bars should remain closed and visits to nursing homes and hospitals should remain prohibited, the guidelines warn. “If a vulnerable population needs to return to work, there should be special accommodations for all vulnerable populations. If the schools are already closed, they should remain closed,” Birx said. “All visits to senior living facilities should continue to be prohibited. Large venues can only be operated under strict physical distancing protocols. Gyms could open if they adhere to strict physical distancing.”
- Phase 2 allows schools, restaurants and bars to reopen with diminished occupancy. Nonessential travel can resume, and people can gather in groups no larger than 50, but teleworking is still encouraged. “This is for the employers. We still would like to encourage telework, and the common areas should remain closed or be physically distant,” Birx said. “This should be a relief to many households that have small children: schools, day cares and camps can reopen in Phase 2. Visits to senior living facilities however should remain and hospitals prohibited.”
- Phase 3 allows workplaces to reopen with no restrictions, and visits to senior care centers and hospitals can resume. “It is essentially returning to our new normal. With all of the what we talked about through all phases: continuing the good hygiene practices, continuing the respect for spaces between individuals, because we know that we still have an issue with asymptomatic spread,” she said.
Read the 18-page document here.