President Trump delivered a look towards our future on Thursday when he announced the White House’s plan for rolling back social distancing measures and reopening the country’s economy in several phases.
The plan calls for three phases to reopening the country, which vary based on the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in each individual state or region.
“We can begin the next front in our war, which we are calling ‘Opening Up America Again,'” Trump said during his daily press briefing at the White House. “To preserve the health of Americans, we must preserve the health of our economy.”
The plan outlines recommendations for individual governors to construct their own plans to reopen their states, including criteria that must be met before a state is eligible to reopen such as numbers of infections and hospitalizations.
The president’s “Opening Up America Again” plan was signed off on by the president’s medical advisers, Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield, and will be a “data-driven” approach with governors taking the helm in deciding, down to a county-level, how they will reopen their states.
“We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” Trump said, adding that the guidelines were “based on hard verifiable data.”
“Phase One” is for areas of the country who solely satisfy the criteria laid out by the White House and calls for social distancing to remain in place, avoiding gathering of more than 10 people, and avoiding any unnecessary travel.
“Phase Two,” which is for regions that have met the criteria twice and have not seen “a rebound” in infections, still calls for residents to practice social distancing and try to avoid large gathering but opens up the possibility of resuming non-essential travel.
“Phase Three” is for the areas who have met the criteria three times and have no rebounds of the virus, is the most open and allows vulnerable parts of the population to go back in public, opening back up gyms and bars, resuming full-time staffing at worksites and letting people head back to large venues like restaurants, movie theaters, churches and sports venues – albeit at a reduced capacity.
Trump said he’s spoken to governors of some western states who said they already have met the criteria in “Phase One.” The president, however, did not say which states were ready, and instead left it up to the governors to make the announcement that they were ready to open up.
“I heard from a number who said they are in very good shape,” he said. “They will be ready to open literally tomorrow.”
Numerous states across the nation have already begun developing plans on how to reopen and forming regional coalitions to determine how best to get their economies back up.
The governors of California, Oregon and Washington said health outcomes and science, not politics, would drive decision-making ono when to reopen.
Any modifications to each state’s stay-at-home order will be grounded in a comprehensive understanding of the health impacts of COVID-19, they added, saying no large-scale reopening will take place until metrics reflected a significant decline in the spread of the virus.
A number of states in the Northeast – including New York, which has been the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. – announced a similar plan on Monday as have seven states in the Midwest.
The federal government said Thursday that 5.2 million more Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the four-week total to about 22 million out of a work force of 159 million — by far the worst stretch of U.S. job losses on record.
The losses translate to about 1 in 7 workers.
“Those people that know they’re vulnerable, self-quarantine. And everybody else, let them go back to work,” said Aaron Carver, a laid-off housing contractor who joined a protest outside the governor’s mansion in Richmond, Virginia, intended to condemn what he and many others feel is the government’s trampling on people’s rights.
President Trump sympathized with these protestors during his Thursday briefing adding that “they seem to be protesters who like me and respect my opinion.”
“They’ve been going through it a long time,” he said. “They’re suffering.”
“This is a gradual process,” Trump said. “Throughout the process, citizens will still be called on to use all the weapons in this war.”