As we speak, President Trump is speaking to the media, part of his daily Wuhan coronavirus presser, where he stresses that the country needs to re-open. He’s right. In four to six weeks, some businesses might be wiped out. American workers are hurting. And there isn’t enough bailout money that can keep the enormity of the US economy afloat. It needs people to shop. It needs activity. It needs to re-open.
The Washington Post reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with FEMA, is drafting a blueprint for a phased-in re-opening of the American economy, and President Trump wants something soon so he can make recommendations to some states. Schools and daycares are at the top of the list concerning the first phase of re-openings but stressed that some areas might have to wait longer until a vaccine or some level of communal immunity is reached. The CDC also wants a “COVID-19 Response Corps” to assist state and local health officials to keep tabs on the virus. Without a vaccine, there is a risk of infection rates going up again—and there are four benchmarks localities must meet in terms of health care capacity before any discussion of a soft re-opening can be considered (via WaPo):
President Trump wants a final detailed plan on reopening the country ready within days so he can issue suggestions for some states to reopen May 1, officials said.
Other agencies and White House officials have drafted similar planning documents, a White House aide said. The version obtained by The Post appears to be an early draft by FEMA and contains granular instructions for a phased reopening of institutions such as schools, child-care facilities, summer camps, parks, faith-based organizations and restaurants.
The plan lays out three-phases: Preparing the nation to reopen with a national communication campaign and community readiness assessment until May 1. Then, the effort, through May 15, would involve ramping up manufacturing of testing kits and personal protective equipment and increasing emergency funding. Then staged reopenings would begin, depending on local conditions. The plan does not give specific dates for reopenings but specified “not before May 1.”
The first priority, according to the CDC response document, is to “reopen community settings where children are cared for, including K-12 schools, daycares, and locally attended summer camps, to allow the workforce to return to work. Other community settings will follow with careful monitoring for increased transmission that exceeds the public health and health care systems.”
The document also says that during phased reopenings, it is critical to strictly follow recommendations on hand-washing and wearing face coverings in group settings.
The plan also carries this warning: “Models indicate 30-day shelter in place followed by 180 day lifting of all mitigation results in large rebound curve — some level of mitigation will be needed until vaccines or broad community immunity is achieved for recovering communities.”
The document says re-opening communities in this phased approach "will entail a significant risk of resurgence of the virus.” Any reopening must meet four conditions:
·Incidence of infection is “genuinely low.”
·A “well functioning” monitoring system capable of “promptly detecting any increase in incidence” of infection.
·A public health system that is “reacting robustly” to all cases of covid-19 and has surge capacity to react to an increase in cases.
·A health system that has enough inpatient beds and staffing to rapidly scale up and deal with a surge in cases.
Texas is said to be releasing a blueprint of its own regarding a phased re-opening of its economy, though Gov. Greg Abbott also stressed that there wouldn’t be a rush to open the floodgates and people should expect this to be a long process. It should be double or triple for a nationwide re-opening. We need more testing, especially that much-awaited antibody test, to better get a grasp on the impact this has had on the general population. Without a vaccine, large gatherings should remain shuttered, especially sports events, concerts, and some bars.
Social mitigation is working. Hospitalizations in hot spots like New York City are declining. The flattening of the curve appears to be occurring, but this could easily be blown up. And it doesn’t help when some people ignore the protocols. The time is ticking to get something slow going, and all it takes is a couple of knuckleheads to torpedo the process.
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