Updated: May 1, 2020
As of today, nearly 7 states have reopened as a result of the coronavirus outbreak amid protests from residents across the country to resume normal life and open businesses. Less than 90 days after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States on February 27th, several states have begin phase 1 of reopening overruling the advice of medical experts.
States will begin phase 1 shortly, despite the surge of new cases still being reported and against the advice of medial experts. Medial experts fear that the virus will revamp and cause a bigger outbreak, specifically next winter when flu season arrives. Medical experts also fear that the premature reopening of states will cause businesses to begin an open-shut cycle. Some communities may become infectious again, leading businesses in a repeat cycle of opening and closing, in order to contain the spread.
Less than a month after every state was put under stay at home orders, closing down all non essential businesses and facilities, I'm afraid we are NOT ready to press play again.
It’s not time. I hate to say it because I’m ready to resume normal life and enjoy summer as much as anyone else. Our medical professionals are not the ones advocating for states to reopen, rather governors, mayors and others who are thinking about the economic effects and repercussions.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp“ I see the terrible impact of COVID-19 on public health as well as the pocketbook.”
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves “We can't wait until there’s a cure to this. We can’t wait until every single person can get tested every single day to open up our economy.”
That thinking is the root cause of protests across the country. Protestors have not only argued that their liberties and freedoms have been restricted but they are also voicing concerns that the economic effects of a continual shutdown will be more detrimental than any health effects. President Trump, who created the White House Coronavirus Task Force which put the federal guidelines in place, has openly supported these demonstrations. The President’s decision to support these protests are confusing because of his new policy which states must follow in order to reopen.
Trump’s new policy says: states must see a decrease in symptoms and new confirmed cases for two weeks in order to begin Phase 1. The White House also requires local governments to have testing programs for health care works and others who are at risk of catching the virus. If this criteria is met, the state may begin to start relaxing social distancing restrictions, cautiously. Most of the demonstrations occuring across the across are in states who do not meet the criteria set by President Trump for reopening.
Which leads to my question:
Why are we in such a rush to put ourselves at risk?
Especially, in states where numbers have not begin to decrease.
Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp was the first state to move into phase 1 of reopening. Georgia officially reopened certain businesses like nails salons, barber shops, body art studios and massage parlors effective April 24th. Despite his state having more than 830 COVID-19 related deaths and testing only 1% of its residents, Gov. Kemp reopened the state but still urged businesses to be cautious. Businesses are to space workstations, screen for fevers and practice other social distancing guidelines. The Governor however did not enforce that residents or workers wear gloves or masks, he stated only “if appropriate” they should be worn.
Georgia’s reopening motivated other states to follow suit, Texas being the first.
On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that nonessential businesses, including malls, theaters, and restaurants may reopen as long as capacity does not increase 25%. He is not requiring residents to wear masks in public, only recommending it. Today, April 27th, Texas' stay-at home order expires allowing these businesses to reopen.
After Texas made the announcement to start Phase 1 on Monday, several other states also announced plans to move into phase 1 of reopening: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
I do agree that it is unrealistic to wait until a cure or vaccine is created to reopen businesses and get the economy back started, but why reopen prematurely?
Why reopen without at-least having adequate equipment and resources to contain any additional outbreaks?
Several states who have made phase 1 plans have also been pleading for more COVID-19 resources like testing kits. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s wife, purchased $500,000 in tests from South Korea. Gov. Hogan said he made this choice after President Trump has repeatedly said "states have to go out and do it themselves.”
Not only do states transitioning into phase 1 not have adequate equipment but some of the states are still currently experiencing massive surges in the number of new cases.
Gov. of Ohio Mike Dewine is one of many governors who made plans to reopen in May. Ohio will reopen certain business starting May 12th, regardless of the fact that an Ohio prison is experiencing one of the worst outbreaks in the country. Despite, experiencing the worst outbreak with more than 2,000 inmates infected, the governor still plans to reopen the state.