States will still ultimately be in control of how and when they will reopen.
The new guidelines recommend that states not begin reopening unless three criteria are met — a 14-day decrease in reported coronavirus and flu-like illnesses, a downward trajectory in COVID-19 cases over a 14-day period, and hospitals are able to treat all patients without crisis care and a “robust testing system” is in place for at-risk healthcare workers.
Those phases will eventually allow states to send people back to work, gradually reopen bars and restaurants, and fill stadiums and concert halls — but health officials were blunt in reminding Americans that this process won’t be like a flip of a light switch and that it will take time and patience.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading medical voice on the government’s coronavirus response team, warned states that completing the guideline phases doesn’t mean that’s the end of their efforts in mitigating the coronavirus while there’s still no cure.
“Even if you are in Phase One, Two, or Three, it’s not, ‘OK, game over.’ It’s not,” Fauci said. “It’s going to be a way that we protect ourselves, because as we know, it may very well be as we go the cycle around that there will be this virus that comes back to us. I think we’ll be able to handle that.”
At the same time, President Trump said some states can begin reopening “literally by tomorrow” — referencing low-populated and low-hit areas of the country, not highly populated metro areas like New York City or Chicago.
Trump also reminded that social distancing guidelines and health experts’ recommendations are still in place for those areas that will start to reopen in the coming weeks: Health officials say people should still wear masks in public no matter where they are in the country and that people will still be asked to avoid gathering in public.
There’s still a long road ahead, public officials warned Thursday, but gradually each state will reopen when governors and local officials deem they are ready.
“I don’t want anyone coming back who isn’t in the position to come back,” Trump said, adding, “We want them to come back when they’re ready.”
At least 30,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States and more than 662,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported, according to the New York Times.
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