In a critical time in the history of human health, one constant about coronavirus has been that there is not enough solid information. A shortage of testing capabilities; a virus that doctors don’t fully understand; and a trial and error approach to treating the very sick combine to make navigating this pandemic a challenge for people at every level.
What is known is that the economy is suffering due to the majority of businesses being shuttered in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. In an effort to revive an ailing economy, President Trump decided it’s time to re-open some parts of the country. But according to the Associated Press, the Trump Administration is not interested in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to try to do that safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to CNN, an administration official with the CDC told them Trump Administration doesn’t want the 17-page plan because “it was ‘overly prescriptive. The guidance in rural Tennessee shouldn’t be the same guidance for urban New York City,’ and the recommendations in the document did not fit the ‘phases’ that had already been outlined by the task force.” The White House and the CDC had different ideas about how stringent some of the guidance needs to be and how much precaution should continue to stay in place.
Some States Are Already Opening Even Though Their COVID-19 Cases Are Still on the Rise
The White House has a plan in place, called Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, and part of that plan’s criteria that are supposed to be met before starting phased re-opening is that states should see a “downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period or downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests).”
However, “most states that are beginning to open for business fail to adhere to even those recommendations: In more than half of states easing restrictions, case counts are trending upward, positive test results are on the rise, or both, raising concerns among public health experts,” according to the New York Times.
The way the Washington Post explains it is that states that were hardest hit in the beginning, New York, California, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey used stringent measures to slow the spread, and it’s worked. Other states that had fewer cases loosened restrictions sooner and are now seeing their COVID-19 cases climb.
“The good news is that the number of new cases those states have seen each day over the past month has steadily fallen. The bad news? That the number of new cases everywhere else has steadily increased,” The Washington Post reported.
Some Governors Are Working Together to Figure Out the Best Way to Move Forward During the Pandemic
The Trump Administration has made the unusual move of shifting much of the responsibility of dealing with the pandemic to governors, saying that governors know what’s best for their state. The National Governors Association (NGA) and Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) are working on their own guidance for phasing back into reopening the economy in a responsible way where public health is concerned.
But at least one governor is interested in what the CDC guidelines are. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont tweeted, “I’d love to hear what the CDC has to say.” He told CNN in a televised interview that he wants the guidelines released.
“What do you got to hide?” he said. “I think that [CDC guidance] would be very helpful for us,” as he and other governors work to figure out the best protocols for reopening schools, businesses, retail stores, houses of worship and restaurants.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been critical of the president’s decision to shift responsibility to the states, saying, that it is “passing the buck” but leaving states with little to work with.
Cuomo said at a press conference in April, “Okay, it’s up to the states, but then don’t ask the states, don’t give them this massive undertaking that has never been done before and then not give them any resources to do it,” according to Reuters.
Some governors are working together though. The Atlantic reported that the governors of Nevada, Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington have formed an alliance to work together on best practices for safely restarting the economy amid a public health crisis, and some East Coast Governors have done the same. According to that article, many governors are taking the same issue with the president as Cuomo.
Governor Jay Inslee, a Washington Democrat, told the Atlantic, “It’s absolutely maddening. It’s like being in World War II and not getting the federal government to manufacture boots … It’s very difficult to understand.”