Last week the White House released guidelines for reopening America—a plan for getting back to normal life after COVID. The guidelines outline three phases, and describe the milestones that need to be reached before moving from one phase to the next. These milestones are related to symptoms (downward trajectory of flu- or COVID-like illness), cases (downward trajectory of cases), and hospitals (able to treat all patients and with robust testing in place). The plan also outlines steps that individuals and businesses should take through all phases of reopening, as well as steps that change as the phased approach is enacted.
There are a few important things to know about this plan. First off, although the federal government has released this report, the decision to proceed from one phase to the next lies with state governments (who may choose to implement the approach on a county-by-county basis). In addition, we know that some of the criteria are not currently achievable. For instance, there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to having an accurate and readily available test, as well as public health infrastructure that will be required to track contacts of confirmed or suspected cases. Even when states are ready to move to the next phase, individuals and local businesses will still need to do their part, as social distancing will not be relaxed all at once.
Nonetheless, it is still good news that these conversations are moving to a public forum, especially as people across the country begin to protest the strict social distancing policies that are currently in place.