(UnitedVoice.com) – On Thursday, President Trump revealed the “Opening Up America Again” plan to begin restarting the US economy and putting people back to work. The roadmap is a three-part guideline that Trump described as “a phased and deliberate approach” to gradually return America to normalcy. The guidelines are designed to ease restrictions in states that have low infection rates of COVID-19 while keeping tighter controls over higher-impact areas.
“We’re starting our life again,” Trump said.
There are no timelines specified in the plan. Dr. Deborah Birx, part of the coronavirus task force, said governors should open states at their own pace. On a Thursday call with governors, Trump reiterated that governors would be calling the shots and that the federal government would be standing alongside them.
Before entering phase 1, there are a series of proposed benchmarks, or “gating criteria,” that must be satisfied:
- There must be a downward curve of reported COVID-19 cases.
- There must be a downward curve of reported flu-like illnesses and cases with COVID-19 like symptoms.
- Hospitals must have the capacity to treat all patients without crisis care. Additionally, they must have a robust testing program for at-risk health care workers.
Once states can meet all three criteria over a 14-day period, they can move to phase one. Dr. Anthony Fauci and Trump said that some states have already met the gating criteria and could implement phase one immediately.
Phase 1 is what is mostly in place around the country. Guidelines in phase one recommend:
Individuals should continue practicing social distancing and be in gatherings of no more than 10 people. The vulnerable and their family members should continue to shelter in place. Vulnerable individuals are the elderly and those with underlying health issues to include high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and compromised immune systems. Travel should be minimized.
Schools and daycare facilities should remain closed. Visits to senior living facilities and hospitals should be prohibited. If medically appropriate, elective surgeries can resume on an outpatient basis. Gyms can open so long as they practice strict physical distancing and sanitation procedures. Bars should remain closed.
Employers should continue work-at-home policies whenever possible and provide special accommodations to vulnerable employees. If possible, employees can return to work in phases. Common areas should be closed to enforce social distancing. Employees should also minimize non-essential travel.
Phase 2 begins to loosen restrictions when a state has no evidence of a rebound and satisfy the gating requirements a second time. Guidelines in phase two recommend:
Vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter in place, and family members should be sensitive to their needs. Family members returning to work or going to places where social distancing is not practical could bring the virus home to vulnerable family members. Non-vulnerable family members should take precautions and isolate themselves from those who are vulnerable. Non-essential travel can resume.
Schools and daycare facilities can reopen. Visits to senior care facilities and hospitals should remain prohibited. Large venues such as restaurants, movie theaters, sporting venues, and places of worship can operate under moderate physical distancing protocols. Doctors can resume elective surgeries. Bars can open with limited standing-room capacity. Travel can return to normal.
Employers should continue to encourage work-at-home policies and strongly consider accommodations to vulnerable employees. Non-essential travel can resume.
Phase 3 is a return to normalcy for most people. There must be no evidence of a rebound and satisfy the gating requirements a third time. Guidelines in phase three recommend:
Vulnerable individuals can resume public interactions but should practice social distancing. Low-risk populations should consider minimizing time spent in crowded environments.
Visits to senior care facilities and hospitals can resume. Diligent hygiene practices by visitors and staff should be followed.
Employers may return to normal operations. Large venues can operate under limited physical distancing protocols. Gyms should follow standard sanitation processes. Bars may open with increased standing room occupancy.
Prior to the “Opening Up American Again” announcement, governors were already moving forward with how to open their states. On Thursday, seven Midwest governors said they were coordinating together on how to reopen their economies. Earlier in the week, Northeast and Western governors announced similar plans. On Thursday, President Trump also announced a bipartisan advisory council on how to revive the economy.
By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor
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