- Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina — which all issued statewide stay-at-home-orders in April — have already begun to reopen parts of their economies this week.
- The US is seeing sustained declining plateaus of coronavirus cases, but more Americans are dying from COVID-19 per week than from any other common cause of death.
- While reopening the economy won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach, many other states’ guidelines for reopening agree that a state needs to see a declining number of cases for at least two weeks — a threshold no states have hit yet.
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Currently, 95% of Americans are under lockdown to help spread the curb of coronavirus.
And it’s working: The US is seeing sustained declining plateaus of new cases. Now, there are already talks of relieving the economic pain brought on by the lockdown — but reopening the economy might look different for every state and is likely to be done in phases.
Three multistate coalitions have formed, in the northeast, west, and midwest, to coordinate measures to reopen their economies, but they have yet to make concrete plans.
That’s because these reopening plans are dependent on various factors, like controlling the rate of infections and hospitalizations, making testing and contact tracing more widespread, making sure healthcare facilities are properly equipped to handle another resurgence, and employing social distancing practices in the workplace.
Several reopening plans, such as those laid out by the Trump administration and by researchers with Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said that a state should see a declining number of new cases for at least two weeks before reopening. It’s a threshold that no state has hit yet, reported Business Insider’s Lydia Ramsey.
But some states are already making moves to begin reopening parts of their economies this week, even as more Americans die from COVID-19 per week than from any other common cause of death, according to data analysis by Business Insider.
The same states were among the last to issue stay-at-home orders, doing so in April after many states already had in March.
Here are the three states beginning to reopen their economies the same month they shut them down.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed some beaches in northern Florida to reopen this past Friday.
On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed some beaches in northern Florida to reopen, The Associated Press reported, even though the state has continued to see an increase in coronavirus cases.
DeSantis had initially left it up to local officials to close their beaches and other establishments, receiving backlash for crowded beaches swarming with spring breakers. He finally issued a statewide stay-at-home order on April 1. Since then, he has deemed the WWE Performance Center in Orlando to be an essential business and has refused to ban church services.
In a Friday press conference, he said that some counties could start reopening their beaches if they wanted to, adding that it was important for people to get fresh air, the AP reported. “Do it in a good way,” DeSantis said. “Do it in a safe way.”
Gatherings of 50 or more people are still banned, and people are encouraged to socially distance on the beach as they exercise or do activities like surfing, reported Business Insider’s Dominic-Madori Davis. But photos from the weekend showed hundreds of locals flooding Jacksonville Beach, apparently without adhering to social distancing guidelines.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster opened up beaches and some businesses previously deemed nonessential on Tuesday.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster was one of the last to issue a statewide stay-at-home order from all the states who have issued such orders, doing so on April 7.
On Monday, he said that department stores and some other businesses previously deemed nonessential would be allowed to reopen if they abided by social distancing guidelines. That includes clothing stores, furniture stores, and florist shops, reported Josiah Bates for TIME.
Public beaches will also open back up Tuesday, depending on local jurisdiction guidance.
“We are still in a very serious situation … we must be sure that we continue to be strict and disciplined with our social distancing,” McMaster said in a press conference. “Our goal was to cause the most damage possible to the virus, while doing the least possible damage to our businesses. South Carolina’s business is business.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is allowing many businesses, including gyms and movie theaters, to reopen in phases beginning Friday through Monday.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will allow businesses to begin reopening in phases over the weekend, he said during a Monday news conference.
Gyms, hair salons, barbershops, fitness centers, and massage-therapy centers will be allowed to reopen Friday as long as they follow social distancing and “regular sanitation,” reported Business Insider’s Jake Lahut. Next Monday, restaurants, private social clubs, and movie theaters can also open. But bars, night clubs, amusement parks, and other businesses will remain closed pending further advice from public-health experts.
Kemp didn’t give much specific detail, but said businesses should “adhere to the minimum basic operations.”
Kemp said Georgia’s rate of new infections had flattened. “We appreciate the leadership and share in the desire to reopen the economy and get Americans back to work,” Kemp said.
In response to the backlash from the state’s reopening decision, Kemp told Fox News that “it’s a tough balance” and he understood both those who agreed and disagreed with it.
“We are talking about a few businesses that I closed down to help flatten the curve, which we have done in our state,” he said, “But for us to continue to ask them to do that while they lose everything, quite honestly, there are a lot of civil repercussions of that, mental health issues. We are seeing more patients in our trauma centers in our state.”
Kemp didn’t issue a statewide stay-at-home order until April 3, saying during a press conference at the time that a key part of his decision was that “we didn’t know … until the last 24 hours” that asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus could infect other people.