TOPLINEThe federal government is preparing a strategy for reopening states beginning on May 1, but warns that a “large rebound curve” of coronavirus infections could occur and communities could be placed back under stricter mitigation rules until “end of spread or vaccine availability,” according to an internal report created by FEMA and the CDC and obtained by The Washington Post.
The framework created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control outlines three key phases, culminating in staggered reopenings no earlier than May 1 for areas where outbreaks have been small or nonexistent and likely not until June or later for current or emerging hot spots.
CDC Director Robert Redfield, in an interview with Good Morning America, estimated that approximately 20 states that have been minimally impacted by the pandemic may be ready to begin easing restrictions by May 1.
In order to reopen, a community must meet several criteria, including having an effective system for tracking cases, an ability to scale up to treat any new infections and a “genuinely low” incidence rate.
In keeping with reports that social distancing may be needed through 2022, however, the memo cautions communities to be prepared to intermittently return to stricter measures to avoid a “large rebound curve.”
All communities, regardless of outbreak severity, will be subject to monitoring through frequent testing and mitigation measures, like planned school breaks and e-learning weeks, until “end of spread or vaccine availability.”
The plan will also require the country to ramp up testing in order to accurately assess outbreak severity, a feat aided by a newly proposed COVID-19 Corps, which will help local health departments track down people who may have been exposed to the virus.
According to the Post, the Corps will comprise approximately 670 people but will be supplemented by “app-based case and contact investigations,” similar to those conducted in South Korea.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate the country, with more than 600,000 confirmed infections and nearly 25,000 deaths reported on Wednesday. Despite President Trump’s mounting insistence that the country can—and should—reopen by May 1, officials warn that easing restrictions will be a slow, gradual process. Meanwhile, governors on both coasts are banding together in coordinated efforts to ensure effective easement among neighboring states.
“There are a number of states—19, 20 states—that really have had limited impact from it. So I think we will see some states that are, the governors feel that they’re ready, we’re poised to assist them with that reopening,” CDC Director Robert Redfield told Good Morning America on Wednesday.