President Donald Trump unveiled a new three-phase plan for states to begin the process of reopening the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic, putting the responsibility in the hands of the individual governors regarding decisions about their own economies.
“We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” Trump confirmed at Thursday's press briefing. “Some states will be able to open up sooner than others.”
These new federal guidelines for reopening the country is titled “Opening Up America Again,” laying out a comprehensive plan of action to restore normal activity in a gradual and cautious manner.
“Now that we have passed the peak in new cases, we’re starting our life again. We’re starting rejuvenation of our economy again, in a safe, structured and very responsible fashion,” Trump added.
Phase one of the document advises the continuation of social distancing in public, and that gatherings of over 10 people should continue to be avoided unless certain measures are observed. If possible, a return to the workplace should be in phases. Bars should remain closed, as well as schools and organized youth activities. It also reads that non-essential travel should be kept to a minimum and to adhere with CDC guidelines.
Trump said specific parts of the nation that are less impacted by COVID-19 would be able to take action and proceed with phase one "literally tomorrow," and that around 20 U.S. states are in "extremely good shape" to open in the near future.
Phase two suggests limiting social gatherings to no more than 50 people and allows non-essential travel to resume. All vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter in place, and, when in public, should maximize distance from others.
Phase three is when Americans can achieve more of a sense of normalcy. Large venues such as movie theaters and sporting events can operate under limited physical distancing measures, vulnerable individuals can resume public interactions and gyms and bars can operate if they adhere to standard protocols.
To begin each phase, states must be able to satisfy certain criteria, such as a downward trajectory in cases and influenza-like illnesses within a 14-day period and ensure that hospitals can treat all patients without crisis care.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards also addressed the state's plans for the eventual reopening of its economy. Today, Edwards announced the creation of Resilient Louisiana Commission, an 18-member panel charged with making recommendations for Edwards' plan.
Edwards also said the healthcare industry will likely be the first to return to normalcy in the coming weeks.
“It is my expectation that the first part of our economy that we stand back up will be the clinics and hospitals with respect to nonemergency medical procedures and surgeries," Edwards said. "There is only so long you can put those things off until they become emergency conditions. We also know it is also a big part of the economy, so we’re going to be doing that first."