Trump’s three-phase plan to reopen US economy amid coronavirus: All the details

US President Donald Trump addresses the daily coronavirus task force briefing in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, US, April 15, 2020. (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump proposed guidelines on Thursday under which US state governors could act to revive the US economy from its coronavirus shutdown in a staggered, three-stage process.

Speaking at his daily briefing on the coronavirus, which has killed more than 32,600 Americans in a matter of weeks, Trump argued that a prolonged shutdown could be deeply harmful to the US economy and society.

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"We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time," Trump told reporters, without himself providing details on his guidelines.

"A prolonged lockdown combined with a forced economic depression would inflict an immense and wide-ranging toll on public health," Trump said, adding it could lead to a sharp rise in drug abuse, alcohol abuse, suicide, heart disease."

Reuters viewed an early version of the guidelines. Here are the main takeaways:

1. States should have a "downward trajectory" of COVID-19 cases for a 14-day period before reopening, or a downward trajectoryof positive tests for the same time period, given flat or increasing testing levels.

2. US states have core responsibility for testing and tracing citizens. A list of "core state preparedness responsibilities" includes the "ability to quickly set up safe and efficient screening and testing sites" and ensure "surveillance sites are screening for asymptomatic cases" and COVID-19 positive people are traced.

US testing to date has been delayed and chaotic, thanks to federal government roadblocks andfailures. Alphabet's Google and Apple Inc are working together on software to make contact tracing easier, but that will not be available until mid-May.

3. Phase 1 of the reopening recommends that schools and daycare facilities remain closed and that people maintain social distancing in public. Businesses should continue to encourage teleworking, and meetings of more than 10 people should be discouraged.

Event spaces like movie theaters can reopen, with "strict" social distancing measures in place. Elective surgeries can resume, on an outpatient basis.

Non-essential travel and visits to senior living facilities should remain suspended. Gyms can reopen, with proper sanitation and distances, but bars should not.

4. Phase 2 of the plan, which states should progress to after another 14-day decline in positive cases, includes lifting the ban on non-essential travel. It recommends businesses continue to encourage teleworking and close common areas where people congregate.

Employers should consider special accommodation for personnel who are members of a "vulnerable population," which is defined as the elderly or people with underlying conditions like obesity, asthma and chronic lung conditions.

Schools and youth activities can resume, and bars can reopen with minimized standing room areas. Large venues, like sporting arenas and houses of worship, can operate under "moderate" physical distancing. Elective surgeries on an in-patient business can resume.

5. Phase 3 of the plan, which states can enter after another 14-day period of declining cases, allows businesses to resume "unrestricted staffing" of worksites, and visits to senior homes to resume.

Large venues can operate with limited physical distancing guidelines and bars can increase standing-room-only areas.

A White House official described the guidelines as conservative and noted that they had been agreed to by the top doctors on the president's coronavirus task force.

Trump is pushing to get the US economy going again after the coronavirus shutdown left millions of Americans jobless. More than 20 million people have filed for unemployment in the US in the past month and over 90 percent of the country have been under stay-at-home orders.

The White House official said that each governor will be able to look to the recommendations as a guide.

"They are layered," the official said, adding they were approved by medical experts on the White House coronavirus taskforce: infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, task force coordinator Deborah Birx and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:06 - GMT 07:06
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