The US has at least 654,301 confirmed cases, along with 32,186 deaths due to the virus. But in his daily briefing on Thursday, Trump said “the next front in our war – opening up America again”. He added: “America wants to be open and Americans want to be open. “A national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution.”
Trump also that a prolonged lockdown would be more damaging on public health and warned of a “sharp rise” in drug abuse, alcohol abuse, heart disease, and other “physical and mental” problems.
His administration’s 18-page guidance document that details three phases to reopen state economies, with each phase lasting, at minimum, 14 days.
Trump told reporters that healthy citizens will be able to return to work “as conditions allow” and said people would still be expected to maintain social distancing measures and to stay home if they are unwell.
He said that re-opening the US economy would be done “one careful step at a time” but he called on state governors to move “very, very quickly, depending on what they want to do”.
Before states re-open, hospitals should have a “robust testing program” that includes antibody testing in place for healthcare workers, the guidelines say.
States should have the ability to set up screening and testing sites for people with symptoms and as well as contact tracing capabilities.
Healthcare facilities should be able to supply personal protective gear independently and handle surges if COVID-19 cases increase again.
The document says the recommendations are “implementable on a statewide or county-by-county basis at governors’ discretion.”
Trump has tussled with governors over who has the ultimate authority to mandate a re-opening of states’ economies.
In the first phase of re-opening, the guidelines say groups of more than 10 people should be avoided if appropriate distancing measures are not practical.
Non-essential travel should be minimized, telework should be encouraged, and common areas in offices closed.
Schools remain closed in phase 1, but large venues such as movies theaters, restaurants, stadiums, and places of worship can open with “strict physical distancing protocols.”
Hospitals, which have been hit hard by the health crisis, may resume elective surgeries, which are critical to their income, and gyms can re-open with new protocols. Bars should remain closed, it said.
In the second phase, applicable to states and regions with “no evidence of a rebound” in cases, the guidelines recommend groups of more than 50 be avoided where social distancing is not practical.
Non-essential travel can resume, while schools and youth camps can reconvene and bars with “diminished standing-room occupancy” may re-open.
Phase three includes unrestricted staffing of workplaces.