- As several US states begin to lift lockdown measures, one expert says none of the states currently meet safety criteria that would warrant a reopening.
- Dr. Caitlin Rivers, a researcher from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday that there are no states that currently meet all four safety criteria outlined by the center.
- As of May 6, Georgia, South Carolina, and Montana have lifted restrictions, and others including Texas, Maine, and Illinois have partially reopened. About 65% of America’s population is still under some form of lockdown.
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As several US states begin to lift lockdown measures, one expert says none of the states currently meet safety criteria that would warrant a reopening.
Last month, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security created guidance for governors looking to reopen their states, outlining four criteria for phased reopenings. According to the center, states should consider reopening when:
1. “The number of new cases has declined for at least 14 days;
2. “Rapid diagnostic testing capacity is sufficient to test, at minimum, all people with COVID-19 symptoms, including mild cases, as well as close contacts and those in essential roles;
3. “The healthcare system is able to safely care for all patients, including providing appropriate personal protective equipment for healthcare workers;
4. “There is sufficient public health capacity to conduct contact tracing for all new cases and their close contacts.”
Caitlin Rivers, a researcher from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security who co-authored the document, spoke about safely reopening during a hearing with the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday and said that, while her comments were her own and did not reflect the university, there are no states that currently meet all of these criteria.
She said that while some states have noticed a decline in the number of new cases over a two-week period, “there are no states that meet all four of those criteria.”
(Also noting that “Not all states have adopted these criteria.”)
“It is clear to me that we are in a critical moment in this fight,” Rivers said in her opening statement. “We risk complacency in accepting the preventable deaths of 2,000 Americans each day. We risk complacency in accepting that our healthcare workers do not have what they need to do their jobs safely. And we risk complacency in recognizing that without continued vigilance in slowing transmission, we will again create the conditions that led to us being the worst-affected country in the world.”
She argued that not only do we need to beef up our technology and infrastructure to tackle this pandemic but to implement a national plan infrastructure to work towards preparing the US for future pandemics.
With regard to the current pandemic, the Trump administration has also published its own “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again,” a three-phased approach based on advice from health officials. These criteria include a “downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses” and COVID-19 symptoms reported within a 14-day period, a decreasing number of positive tests or documented cases, and having a robust testing program for at-risk workers in place.
As of May 6, Georgia, South Carolina, and Montana have lifted restrictions, and others including Texas, Maine, and Illinois have partially reopened. About 65% of America’s population is still under some form of lockdown.
The US has seen over 1.2 million coronavirus cases and more than 73,000 deaths across its 50 states. Still, recent projections indicate that some states have not yet passed their peak.
CNN, citing Johns Hopkins University data, reported on Wednesday that “19 states are seeing an upward trend in new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 14 days. The number of new cases appears to be going down in 13 states, and 18 states appear to be at about the same levels.”
Experts have warned that without proper social distancing measures in place, the US could see waves of coronavirus infections between now and 2022.