President Trump has announced Guidelines for Opening Up America economy Again, it included a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts.
These steps will be useful for state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives.
Though Trump has previously said that he has the authority to lift state lockdowns, the power to reopen states remains with the governors. The Opening Up America Again plan is a guideline, not an order, and state governors are not required to follow the plan.
Some states are joining forces to decide how they will begin lifting their lockdown. California, Oregon, and Washington have teamed up “to work together on a shared approach for reopening our economies,” according to a statement. An East Coast group, made up of Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island, will also work together to develop a reopening plan.
According to an introduction to the guidelines, the plan is “based on up-to-date data and readiness, mitigates risk of resurgence, protects the most vulnerable,” and is “implementable on statewide or county-by-county basis at governors’ discretion.”
Before beginning the three-phase process, Trump recommends that the states must meet the following criteria:
- A downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses and COVID-19 syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period.
- A downward trajectory of documented cases or positive tests as a percent of total tests, within a 14-day period.
- Hospitals are treating patients without crisis care and have a robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing.
Once states meet these criteria, Trump recommends that they begin the first stage of lifting the lockdown.
Phase One of the Opening Up America Again Guidelines
When a state enters phase one, according to the guidelines, individuals should continue to social distance when in public, and social settings of more than 10 people should be avoided. Individuals should minimize non-essential travel, and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding self-isolating following travel.
Vulnerable individuals should continue to stay at home and members of their households should be aware that returning to work where distancing isn’t practical risks passing on the coronavirus to the vulnerable person.
The guidelines define vulnerable people as “elderly individuals, individuals with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.”
Employers should continue to encourage their employees to work remotely, when possible, and return to work in phases. Additionally, employers should close common areas, minimize non-essential travel, and consider special accommodations for vulnerable employees.
During phase one, schools, daycare centers, and camps should remain closed, and visits to senior living homes and hospitals should be prohibited. Large venues, like dine-in restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues can reopen under strict physical distancing protocols.
Gyms can reopen if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols, but bars should remain closed.
Additionally, elective surgeries can resume on an outpatient basis at facilities that adhere to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines.
Phase Two of the Opening Up America Again Guidelines
During phase two, vulnerable individuals should continue to stay at home. Individuals should continue to social distance, but social settings of more than 50 should be avoided. Non-essential travel can resume.
Employers should continue to encourage their employees to work remotely, should keep common areas closed, and should continue to consider special accommodations for the vulnerable population.
In phase two, schools, daycare centers, and camps can reopen, and bars can open with reduced standing-room occupancy.
Phase Three of the Opening Up America Again Guidelines
Vulnerable individuals no longer have to stay at home but should practice social distancing and minimize their exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical. Low-risk populations should minimize their time spent in crowded environments.
Employers can allow their workers to return to work in phase three.
Visits to senior care facilities and hospitals can resume, but those who interact with residents and patients must maintain high standards of hygiene. Large venues, like movie theaters and sports venues, can operate under limited physical distancing protocols. Bars can operate with increased standing room occupancy.
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