COVID-19, Reopening the US Economy, April 16, 2020

COVID-19 Update
Plans to reopen US economy
Plans to reopen US economy

On Thursday evening, April 16, 2020, a summary of the Federal government’s plan to reopen the U. S. Economy was shown on the San Francisco NBC evening news. While I watched I took screenshots of my TV.

There are 3 categories of Gating Criteria proposed to be met before proceeding to Phase I Opening.

State or Regional Gating Criteria

These criteria require not just a flattening of the curve. They propose to see a downward trend in reported symptoms and case reports. Hospitals need to be able to handle all non-crisis care and they should have in place a robust testing program for at risk healthcare workers, including new antibody testing.

These criteria make sure that our healthcare system is no longer overwhelmed with COVID illnesses. It’s good to see the call for a robust testing program for Healthcare Workers. How about adequate PPE?

The Phases to Reopen The Economy

Governors have discretion in when they feel their state is ready for Phase One.

Phase One

This is a huge step. It means many people back to work, many people going to public places, and an INCREASED need for each individual to protect themselves and others against exposure. It means: Keep wearing a mask and gloves. Keep social distancing in place. There is a lot of awareness required. MORE than is required now when so many people are out of circulation. If we don’t do well enough at this step the curve will turn upward again.

Returning to work in the age of Covid-19

What are the recommended health requirements for return to work? Temperature measurement is a poor screening measure. It will only capture those with active illness who have ignored the mandate to stay at home when sick.

It won’t capture those with lingering ability to spread the virus or who are in the incubation period after exposure but not yet sick. We need better guidelines here. Social distancing is completely appropriate but it can’t make up for screening errors. There are too many occasions where social distance is either ignored or not possible in the workplace.

Does this step allow for gyms and theaters to open? It appears so but Phase 3 mentions opening restaurants and theaters.

The bullet points are brief and consequently cannot include measures to ensure appropriate sanitation in public places. There also aren’t any guidelines for testing of the larger population, a measure clearly recommended by public health officials.

Phase Two
Phase Two

It’s hard to predict when this phase can be implemented. Already many schools are closed for the rest of this school year. Summer programs and vacations have been cancelled. State by state it will happen.

Phase Three
Phase Three

It’s time to consider how you will change your behavior as we move to more freedom to circulate. If you are a business owner forced to close during the shelter in place period how will you adapt your business practices when allowed to open?

We are all in this together. Please use caution and STAY WELL! Susie Larson, MD