President Donald Trump on Thursday announced new guidelines on easing coronavirus restrictions in the country.
At a White House press conference, he presented the “Opening Up America Again” guidance, under which state governors are required to ease the lockdown in three phases, with each phase lasting at least 14 days.
Trump made the announcement, which is aimed to help reopen the ailing U.S. economy, after holding consultations with governors and members of the bipartisan Opening Up America Again Congressional Group.
These guidelines were developed by the top medical experts and are based on verifiable metrics regarding the situation on the ground, the White House said.
The guidelines, which won’t be mandatory, will empower each Governor to tailor the phased reopening according to the situation in the concerned State.
Governors can begin phased openings at the State-wide or county-by-county level.
The guidelines suggest that schools remain closed and allow some restaurants and gyms to operate under social distancing protocols.
The guidelines set clear benchmarks on new cases, testing, and hospital resources for States to meet to proceed toward a phased reopening.
Criteria for easing restrictions include a downward trajectory in cases presenting coronavirus-like symptoms or a downward trajectory in positive tests.
The criteria also included hospitals having the resources to treat all patients without crisis care and a robust testing program for healthcare workers.
Although the Trump administration says the country has seen “critical progress in flattening the curve,” the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc in the U.S. with more than 32,000 deaths and 654,000 confirmed cases.
A long-term nationwide shutdown is not sustainable and would inflict wide-ranging harm on the health and well being of the citizens, according to the President.
Up to 29 states “will be able to open relatively soon,” in the opinion of Trump, but many Governors disagree with this claim.
Worst-affected states like New York, New Jersey and California have made it clear that there is no question of relaxing social distancing guidelines for weeks.
Calling the 18-page guidance document “vague and inconsistent”, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it did “nothing to make up for the president’s failure to listen to the scientists and produce and distribute national rapid testing”.
Although Trump claimed during the press conference that America is in the process of winning the war against the pandemic, health experts and business leaders pointed at the lack of widespread testing systems that are necessary for the people to safely start returning to their normal lives.
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