SAN DIEGO — President Trump gave governors a road map Thursday for recovering from the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic, laying out "a phased and deliberate approach" to restoring normal activity in places that have strong testing and are seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases.
"Based on our latest data, our team of experts now agrees that we can begin the next front in our war, which we're calling opening up America again," Trump said.
The new guidelines are aimed at easing restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus, while holding the line in harder-hit locations.
They make clear that the return to normalcy will be a far longer process than Trump initially envisioned, with federal officials warning that some social distancing measures may need to remain in place through the end of the year to prevent a new outbreak. And they largely reinforce the plans already under development by governors, who have the primary responsibility for public health in their states.
"Our approach outlines three phases in restoring our economic life. We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time. And some states will be able to open up sooner than others. Some states are not in the kind of trouble that others are in," Trump said.
Places with declining infections and strong testing would begin a three-phase gradual reopening of businesses and schools.
In phase one the plan recommends the following:
- Strict social distancing for all people in public.
- Gatherings larger than 10 people are to be avoided
- Nonessential travel is discouraged.
- Employers to telework where possible, return to work in phases
In phase two people are encouraged to do the following:
- Non-essential travel for employers can resume
- Schools and organized youth activity can reopen
- Bars, gyms and large venues can reopen with proper social distancing measures in place
- Churches can reopen with social distancing, limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people unless precautionary measures are taken. Travel could resume.
- Elective surgeries can resume
Phase three envisions the following:
- A return to normalcy for most Americans, with a focus on identification and isolation of any new infections.
- Bars, gyms and large venues can reopen with limited social distancing and proper sanitation
Many states are coming together regionally to make decisions. Governor Newsom is working with Washington and Oregon on a plan. Governors of both parties made clear they will move at their own pace.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.