As nationwide unemployment numbers continue to climb in the wake of restrictive stay-at-home orders in most states, the director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered tempered optimism for a soft reopening of the economy while maintaining social distancing guidelines until a vaccine arrives to market.
According to Reuters, the CDC’s Robert Redfield said he believes 19 or 20 U.S. states have had a limited impact from the new coronavirus and their governors believe they may be ready to reopen by President Donald Trump’s target of May 1.
“There are a number of counties within this country that have not experienced really any coronavirus despite testing,” Redfield said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“There are a number of states – 19, 20 states – that really have had limited impact from it,” Redfield said. “So I think we will see some states that are, the governors feel that they’re ready, we’re poised to assist them with that reopening.”
Roughly half of the states are reporting low quadruple-digit case totals, a number far less than initial estimates, something Redfield called a “tribute to the mitigation that the American public did.”
“It’s really a testament to the sacrifice the American public has taken and the leadership that we’ve had in a number of these states to give that example,” he added.
This updated timeline means that so-called “non-essential” business owners and workers could see a return to work much closer on the horizon.
While it is not yet known which states are ready to make the move to reopen at April’s end, data from John Hopkins revealed that, as of Thursday, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Hawaii, West Virginia, Vermont, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Idaho, New Mexico, Arkansas, Kansas, Oregon, Minnesota, Delaware, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Kentucky have experienced the lowest number of cases in the nation.
President Trump said last week that around 20 states were “in extremely good shape” and could reopen fairly quickly.
The CDC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have developed a public health strategy to reopen parts of the country as part of the larger White House effort get Americans back to work, Reuters reported.
The plan cites three phases: A national communication campaign and community readiness assessment through May 1, increased emergency funding and production of testing kits and personal protective equipment through May 15, and staged reopenings in consideration of local conditions.
First phase for individuals:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 17, 2020
The plan would require that some mitigation measures remain in effect. At this point, only communities largely untouched by the virus would be able to make “low mitigation” efforts.
“Models indicate 30-day shelter in place followed by 180 day lifting of all mitigation results in large rebound curve — some level of mitigation will be needed until vaccines or broad community immunity is achieved for recovering communities,” the guidance warned.
Redfield said mitigation steps like social distancing would likely have to continue until a vaccine and treatments are available.
“I do think we’re going to have some social distancing that’s going to be a critical part of our strategy as we go forward,” he told CBS’s “This Morning.”
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