Trump shares plan to reopen US economy
WASHINGTON – As novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the United States, President Donald Trump has given governors guidance on reopening state economies in the coming months.
The guidance offers criteria such as a two-week decline in “covid-like” cases as well as instating a robust testing programme.
Trump promised governors they would be handling the process themselves, with help from the federal government.
The US has 654 301 confirmed cases and 32 186 deaths due to the virus.
Trump has suggested some states could reopen this month.
In his daily briefing on Thursday, President Trump declared “the next front in our war – opening up America again”.
“America wants to be open and Americans want to be open,” he said. “A national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution.”
He said that a prolonged lockdown risked inflicting a serious toll on public health. He warned of a “sharp rise” in drug abuse, alcohol abuse, heart disease, and other “physical and mental” problems.
Trump told reporters that healthy citizens would be able to return to work “as conditions allow”. He said Americans would continue to be called upon to maintain social distancing measures and to stay home if they are unwell.
He said that reopening 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”.
The administration’s 18-page guidance document details three phases to reopen state economies, with each phase lasting, at minimum, 14 days.
Some regions could begin returning to normal after a month-long evaluation period, at the earliest, according to a copy of the document.
In places where there are more infections or where rates begin to rise, it could take longer.
During Thursday’s call, Trump told governors: “You’re going to call your own shots.”
“You’re going to be running it, we’re going to be helping you,” he added.
“We’ll be standing right alongside of you and we’re going to get our country open and get it working and our people want to get working.”
In recent days, the president has argued with state governors about the timing of easing restrictions and reopening businesses. He has now conceded that his powers are limited to issuing guidelines.
On Wednesday, White House coronavirus task force leader Vice-President Mike Pence said 24 per cent of the counties in the US have had no reported coronavirus cases. He added that half of the states have fewer than 2 500 cases.
The co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, Dr Deborah Birx, also stated there had been a national decline in confirmed new daily cases from the recorded peak in recent days.
The Trump administration had previously pencilled in May 1 as a possible date to reopen the nation, and on Wednesday Trump said some states may be able to reopen earlier than that.
However, some health experts and state governors have cautioned against reopening the economy too soon.
On Tuesday, Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, told AP news May 1 was “a bit overly optimistic” for many areas of the country, as a strong testing and tracing system would be needed before social distancing measures were lifted.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that his state would remain under stay-at-home orders until May 15.
Officials in the state, which is the epicentre of the outbreak in the US, say the situation is showing signs of stabilising this week, though there are still hundreds of deaths daily.
The governors of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky have announced they will work together to reopen the region.