What experts agree we need before “reopening”.

The White House recently released its guidelines for Opening Up America. Public health institutions (like Johns Hopkins, Harvard, and the American Enterprise Institute) have also published recommendations for how to safely ease social distancing measures.

While these plans are not identical, experts agree on a few key things that we need to safely reopen America:

  1. There needs to be a sustained reduction of COVID-19 cases for at least 14 days.
  2. Hospitals need to be able to take care of all patients requiring hospitalization as they would in a typical, non-crisis time. This also means making sure medical staff have the personal protection equipment they need to stay safe while caring for others.
  3. Experts agree we need to dramatically increase COVID-19 diagnostic testing. At a minimum, we need to be able to test: (i) everyone with symptoms, (ii) people who have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, and (iii) essential workers.  We may also need to test people with no symptoms if they have been in contact with someone with a potential exposure to ensure we are catching all cases of COVID-19.
  4. The health system needs to conduct contact tracing--that means reaching out to everyone who has been in contact with a sick person to make sure those contacts are tested and can self-isolate to protect others. 

Doctors and scientists, and many people in government, agree on these things. Plans will vary between states, and will change over time. And if more people start getting sick again, we may need to return to sheltering in place. But taking these steps will help protect our communities as we reopen parts of the economy.


Last update: May 1, 12:57 pm EST

Science review: ERS, JAB