Over the past few weeks most states have begun implementing their reopening plans, slowly easing restrictions while trying to keep new cases from spiking (https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/18/health/us-coronavirus-monday/index.html). California Governor Gavin Newsom issued the initial stay-at-home order on March 19, with 42 other states following suit soon after. Nineteen stay-at-home orders are still in effect, but a majority are set to expire by the end of May if they aren't extended. Governors have been tasked with trying to implement plans that will help reinvigorate their respective economies while still trying to maintain safe practices.
In order to effectively reopen, these governors need to take into account several considerations including feedback and guidelines from state and federal health agencies. Testing has played a large factor in tracking the effectiveness of their measures, however increased testing will also lead to an increase in documented cases. Both Florida and Texas have recently moved forward with the next phases of their respective plans, but they have also seen a marked increase in confirmed cases. Both governors attribute this to greater access to testing, but if the trend continues they could face backlash and may have to delay their timetables. Regardless, increased access to testing will provide more information that will help state governments make decisions more effectively, hopefully providing a clearer and safer frame work for broader reopening.
As the school year ends across the country, states must also begin considering how they plan to reopen in the fall. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) recently released plans for the fall semester and overall 2020-2021 school year. This plan would extend the school calendar to be year long, with longer breaks spread out periodically. Reopening would also require significant measures for testing and contact tracing. Rules for implementation need to be discussed now, but they also need to be updated regularly as the status of the virus is constantly evolving.
While it is unclear whether the worst is behind us, progress is being made in the right direction. Life may never return to the way we knew it, but we can begin establishing a new sense of normalcy under the leadership of our medical professionals and state and federal leaders if they can use hard data and prudence to move forward.
Image Credit: SIPA & AP