Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: April 29, 2020

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. This is our daily update on the plans federal, state, and local officials are making to set America on a path to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Each day, we:

  • Track the status of reopening in all 50 states and describe the relevant political context.
  • Provide in-depth summaries of the latest reopening plans
  • Give you the latest stories on other reopening plans and ideas.
  • What are the areas of conflict and who is saying what?

Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

Recent developments

Have any states opened in the last 24 hours? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was expected to hold a press conference Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET to discuss the first phase of reopening the state. Florida’s stay-at-home order is scheduled to expire on Thursday.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the creation of the New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board. Former Cuomo aides Steve Cohen and Bill Mulrow will lead the group of more than 100 business, community, and civic leaders from the state. A full list of board members is available here.
  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) released the ND Smart Restart protocols. These guidelines will apply to businesses in the state beginning May 1, when the phased reopening of the state’s economy will begin.
  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) outlined her Back to Normal plan for the state. The plan includes guidelines for individuals, employers, retailers, schools, healthcare providers, and local governments for resuming normal operations. The guidelines are not requirements and do not go into effect on a specific date (though the plan has a list of criteria to initiate) as South Dakota never issued a stay-at-home order or required businesses to close.

Commentary: The Conflicts

What are the opposing arguments in the debate over how and when to reopen? Today, we look at the debate about herd immunity.

“The question is not whether to aim for herd immunity as a strategy, because we will all eventually get there. The question is how to minimise casualties until we get there. Since Covid-19 mortality varies greatly by age, this can only be accomplished through age-specific countermeasures. We need to shield older people and other high-risk groups until they are protected by herd immunity.

Among the individuals exposed to Covid-19, people aged in their 70s have roughly twice the mortality of those in their 60s, 10 times the mortality of those in their 50s, 40 times that of those in their 40s, 100 times that of those in their 30s, and 300 times that of those in their 20s. The over-70s have a mortality that is more than 3,000 times higher than children have. For young people, the risk of death is so low that any reduced levels of mortality during the lockdown might not be due to fewer Covid-19 deaths, but due to fewer traffic accidents.

Considering these numbers, people above 60 must be better protected, while restrictions should be loosened on those below 50.”
Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Spiked, “Delaying herd immunity is costing lives,” April 29, 2020

“Experts estimate that for a population to reach herd immunity, up to 80 percent of it would have to be exposed to the coronavirus. Even if the virus has a fatality rate of a little less than 1 percent, this means that letting it spread through the population of the United States would cause about 2 million deaths. …

We won’t get to herd immunity in the near future. A miracle drug is not in sight. The only way to restart the economy, then, is to put a highly effective system in place to test millions of people, trace their movements, and quickly quarantine those who might have been infected.”
Yascha Mounk, associate professor at Johns Hopkins University and senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, The Atlantic, “No Testing, No Treatment, No Herd Immunity, No Easy Way Out,” April 28, 2020

Tracking reopenings

The table and maps below show the status of plans to lift restrictions on activities because of the pandemic. We update them daily.

We place states into five categories. How does your state stack up?

  • Reopenings in progress: the state has already lifted restrictions on some industries put in place because of the pandemic.
  • Announced reopenings, effective date: the state will reopen or partially reopen three or more industries on a set date.
  • Announced reopenings, contingent date: the state will reopen or partially reopen three or more industries on a targeted date, dependent on other conditions.
  • Announced reopenings, no date: the state has a plan to reopen three or more industries entirely dependent on conditions.
  • Limited or no announced reopening plan: the state has not yet put forth a plan to reopen three or more industries


Featured plan

Here, see an in-depth summary of one of the latest reopening plans. Is there a plan you’d like us to feature? Reply to this email and let us know.

On Tuesday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) extended a modified stay-at-home order for the state until May 31 and released a four-stage reopening plan called “Restarting Maine’s Economy.”

Mills said, “While this plan presents a path forward for gradually and safely restarting our economy, it should not lure Maine people into thinking that this pandemic is almost over or that things will be back to normal soon. The hard truth is that they are not; that they likely will not be for a long time; and that, with this plan, we are inventing a new normal – a different way of doing business, shopping, traveling, and enjoying the Maine outdoors in ways that keep us all safe.”

Under the plan, social distancing measures—limited public gatherings and required face coverings in public—will initially continue. Some businesses will begin to open in Stage 1 on May 1 with restrictions.

While Stage 2 is expected to start in June, the following health metrics will be used by Mills to determine whether Maine will advance to the next stage or return to an earlier one:

  • Decline in influenza-like illnesses and COVID-like syndromic cases;
  • Decline in documented cases and newly hospitalized patients; and
  • Hospital and testing capacity.

On the timeline forward, the plan says, “While progression through the stages is planned month-by-month, decisions will be determined by public health metrics. Progress may also change based on virus trends, testing or treatment breakthroughs, or identification of new, safe ways of doing business.”

Context

  • Mills declared a state of emergency on March 15, 2020. On March 31, Mills issued a stay-at-home order set to run from April 2 to April 30.
  • As of Wednesday, Maine had 1,056 coronavirus cases and 166 hospitalizations, and 52 total deaths. Maine’s per capita death rate is 4 per 100,000 people.
  • Maine is a Democratic trifecta. Democrats control both chambers in the state legislature, and Mills is a Democratic governor.

Plan details

Businesses will be allowed to open, in stages, if they comply with a set of checklist standards created in collaboration between the state Department of Economic and Community Development and the private sector. Sample best practices include closing break rooms, installing plexiglass shields, and reducing occupancy. These checklists will vary by industry.

Rather than categorizing a business as essential or nonessential for reopening, Maine’s plan focuses on whether the business can reopen while protecting public health and safety. Businesses that commit to following their industry’s checklist standards will be given a badge to post on their business door or website.

In Stage 1, set to begin on May 1, gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited and individuals entering the state must continue to quarantine for 14 days. Employees should work from home if possible. The following businesses are allowed to open if they meet checklist standards:

  • Drive-in theaters
  • Healthcare providers
  • Outdoor recreation facilities like golf courses, marinas, and state-owned public lands trails. Coastal state parks will remain closed
  • Barbershops, salons, and dog grooming services
  • Stay-in-your-vehicle church services
  • Auto dealerships and car washes

In Stage 2, which is expected to begin in June, gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited and individuals entering the state must continue to quarantine for 14 days. Legal, professional, and state employees may return to their offices. The following businesses are allowed to open if they meet checklist standards:

  • Restaurants (to in-person dining)
  • Lodgings
  • Outdoor recreation like campgrounds and day camps for children
  • Coastal state parks may reopen
  • Fitness facilities
  • Nail services
  • All retail businesses

In Stage 3, which has a targeted start of July, gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited and individuals entering the state must continue to quarantine for 14 days. The following businesses are allowed to open if they meet checklist standards:

  • Bars
  • Hotels, campgrounds, summer camps, and RV parks for both Maine residents and visitors
  • Charter boats, state park campgrounds, and summer camps
  • Personal services like spas, tattoo parlors, massage facilities, and cosmetologists

In Stage 4, all businesses can resume normal operations. This stage does not have a targeted start date.

Reactions

  • Dana Connors, the president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, said, “Our first concern, as always, is protecting the health of Maine people, and we support the Governor’s gradual approach to reopening the economy and her Administration’s commitment to working closely and collaboratively across economic sectors to determine how to do so safely. Maine businesses are eager to do their part to stem the tide on this virus, and we look forward to our continued partnership to that end.”
  • Steven Michaud, president of the Maine Hospital Association, said, “Maine hospitals appreciate the balanced approach the Governor and her team are taking on restoring a broader array of healthcare services available to the public.”
  • Curtis Picard, the president of the Retail Association of Maine, said, “We’ve heard pretty clearly from our [350] members that they can do some sort of opening with proper protocol and mitigation. We also think there’s some merit to looking at things regionally. That if you’re in Presque Isle or someplace in [Aroostook] County, why can’t they open up earlier than, say, Cumberland County?”

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of activities by other federal, state, and local governments and influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • Breea Clark, the mayor of Norman, Oklahoma, announced the city would reopen in several phases with goal dates of May 1, May 15, May 29, and June 12. The target date for lifting all restrictions is August 1. Progression through each phase is based on several public health benchmarks, including a decline in the average number of COVID-19 cases, hospital bed availability, adequate testing, and developing a system for contact tracing. Oklahoma’s stay-at-home order is set to expire on April 30. Personal care businesses and state parks reopened on April 24.
  • Former 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang and several candidates for New York’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention filed a lawsuit against the New York State Board of Elections on Tuesday for removing Yang’s name from the Democratic ballot and canceling the state’s Democratic presidential preference primary. Douglas Kellner, the Democratic co-chairman of the state Board of Elections, said, “At a time when the goal is to avoid unnecessary social contact, our conclusion was that there was no purpose in holding a beauty contest primary that would marginally increase the risk to both voters and poll workers.”



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