(UnitedVoice.com) – On Thursday, President Trump sent a letter to state governors telling them the administration is recommending more relaxed guidelines regarding the coronavirus. Ultimately, public health decisions about social distancing and quarantines to contain COVID-19 rest with the states. However, the federal government is collecting test data that can help them make more informed decisions to control the outbreak while also easing restrictions within their borders.
In his letter to the governors, Trump praised them for their efforts to control the outbreak and acknowledged the “long battle ahead.” He further explained that the administration would release new guidelines about “maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures.”
Earlier in the week, Trump said, “The cure can’t be worse than the problem…” and that while life is fragile, so is the economy. Every day the economy is shut down makes it more challenging to quickly bring it back up to speed and get people back to work.
Currently, the US has locked down important segments of the economy that make it work. Experts report that 70% of economic growth is dependent upon consumer spending. However, auto manufacturing is shut down, flights are curtailed, and retail stores and entertainment venues are closed. Consumers can’t spend money and boost the economy if there’s nowhere to go.
Trump has said he would like the country “open” by Easter. However, that plan concerned health officials and state leaders who don’t know if there is a plan to continue to deal with the pandemic. On Thursday, the White House Coronavirus Task Force began to open up about a plan to meet both the need to control COVID-19 and put the economy back on track.
How to Restore Life to Normal and Fight COVID-19
Dr. Deborah Birx is the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force. On Thursday, she laid out a plan that could be the solution to the president’s desire to open up the economy. In short, her strategy involves using a laser focus instead of a generic, broad sweep to control and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Instead of a blanket one-stop approach, Dr. Birx said the data collected from coronavirus testing is extremely valuable to understanding how, when, and where the virus is moving. By zoning in on target areas, state and local governments can create the tactics that work best for them to control the virus in specific locations without shutting down an entire state.
Birx was the US global AIDS coordinator, and she said this is similar to a tactic successfully used to counter AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
Testing Is Ramping Up
Vice President Mike Pence also said the administration is looking into responsible ways to open the country back up. He re-affirmed Dr. Birx and said the principle means was to do it based on data coming in from testing. Drive-through testing sites and laboratories are opening across the country, and testing is increasing every day.
The CDC says there are now 92 laboratories testing for COVID-19 covering all 50 states plus DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Prior to March 8, there were virtually no tests performed for COVID-19. Official counts by the government as of March 27 say 497,444 people have now been tested. Unofficial counts say 545,380. Since testing started there are 101,725 confirmed cases across the US.
As the number of tests goes up, more data becomes available to help the federal government make recommendations to the states about COVID-19. Only time will tell if these data patterns can help stop the spread of the coronavirus while allowing states and local governments to ease restrictions in non-effected areas.
By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor
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