[guest post by Dana]
The Trump administration is moving toward opening up as much of the economy as they can by May 1 (excluding “hot spots” like New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Detroit, New Orleans):
The Trump administration is pushing to reopen much of the country next month, raising concerns among health experts and economists of a possible covid-19 resurgence if Americans return to their normal lives before the virus is truly stamped out.
Behind closed doors, President Trump — concerned with the sagging economy — has sought a strategy for resuming business activity by May 1, according to people familiar with the discussions.
In phone calls with outside advisers, Trump has even floated trying to reopen much of the country before the end of this month, when the current federal recommendations to avoid social gatherings and work from home expire, the people said. Trump regularly looks at unemployment and stock market numbers, complaining that they are hurting his presidency and reelection prospects, the people said.
Note: “The administration sees rapid and widespread testing as a crucial step, [and] allowing public health authorities to better identify infected people, including those who don’t show symptoms, and isolate them from healthy people who could go about their businesses.”
The assistant secretary for Health spoke to the issue of testing with regard to reopening the country:
…the administration aims to have “millions” of tests on the market by May that can tell if healthy people have been exposed to the virus and developed antibodies against it.
“A combination of that kind of test with the current kind of test we have now is how America opens back up again.”…
On Tuesday, Trump told Sean Hannity that he wanted to open the economy with a “big bang”:
I’d love to open with a big bang, one beautiful country, but it’s very possible.
So we are looking at two concepts, we are looking at the concept we open up sections and also looking at the concept where you open up everything. I think New York is getting ready if not already, but getting ready to peak and once it peaks, it will start coming down and it’s going to come down fast.
The report notes that the CDC guidelines expire April 30, and, as they did when establishing stay-at-home restrictions, states will be able to decide how they want to proceed with easing up on the restrictions. Because the White House cannot unilaterally reopen the country, it is the states that have “put the force of law behind those suggestions”.
We have a very large country with very different patterns of disease and outbreaks in different parts of the country, so it’s not gonna be one size fits all.”
“I don’t think there are going to be benchmarks consistent” throughout the U.S., Fauci said, noting public health officials would pay close attention to data everywhere. Some places, including smaller towns and cities in the midwest, could see a quicker reopening, Fauci said.
He added that in New York, where more than 7,000 have died, he would “not pull back … at all” on mitigation including social distancing until there was a “steep decline” in cases and better systems in place to contain the virus should a resurgence occur.
When Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked whether he thought there was the likelihood that the U.S. might be ready for business next month, he said, “I do.”
Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, estimates it will happen within the next four to eight weeks:
We are coming down, I think, the home stretch, that’s what the health experts are telling us. Once we can reopen this thing, I think it’s going to be very successful.
Again, it’s an issue of competing interests. And both interests are vital. I’m just hoping that Trump can use some restraint, and take the time to carefully listen to his health care experts as much as he does his economic advisers.
Perhaps a good question to ask is: Will the American people be ready to return to their regular routines and activities, as well as return to work after the social distancing guidelines expire on April 30?