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April 17, 2020 12:27pm

Economic reopening plans begin to take shape

As the COVID-19 crisis continues in greater Louisville and throughout the country, policymakers have begun developing potential road maps for re-opening segments of the economy. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced that the Commonwealth has joined a partnership with several Midwestern states to coordinate reopening efforts. In addition, the White House released a plan to help guide states and regions in safely reopening their economies.

See also: GLI COVID-19 Renewal Task Force

Midwest Regional Partnership

Earlier this week, Governor Beshear announced that Kentucky would begin coordinating its reopening efforts with Indiana and Ohio. Later, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois were added to this list. This partnership joins at least two other regional partnerships in the country: one in the Northeast and another on the West Coast.

In a statement, the governors for these states, including Governor Beshear and Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, stressed the importance of working together to address both the public health crisis and the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19. “Phasing in sectors of our economy will be most effective when we work together as a region. This doesn’t mean our economy will reopen all at once, or that every state will take the same steps at the same time. But close coordination will ensure we get this right. Over time, people will go back to work, restaurants will reopen, and things will go back to normal. We look forward to working together as one region to tackle this challenge together.”

The statement outlined four criteria these states will use in making decisions related to reopening the economy:

  • Sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations.
  • Enhanced ability to test and trace.
  • Sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence.
  • And best practices for social distancing in the workplace

White House Guidelines

The White House released a set of guidelines titled “Opening Up America Again.” The plan outlines “gating criteria” to be utilized before proceeding to the first of a three-phased reopening process. The gating criteria includes metrics related to declines in reported COVID-19 cases and symptoms, hospital capacity, and testing programs. The plan recommends a retesting of the gating criteria before each transition to a new phase.

  • Phase 1 encourages continued adherence to social distancing guidelines by the CDC but would allow some businesses to reopen with caution. Telework would still be encouraged where possible.
  • Phase 2 again encourages social distancing and telework but recommends non-essential travel should be allowed to resume, schools could reopen, restaurants could operate with moderate distancing protocols, and elective surgeries could restart.
  • Phase 3 recommends “unrestricted staffing” of worksites and would reopen gyms, large venues, and bars.

Under all three phases, vulnerable populations are advised to practice physical distancing. Under phases 1 and 2, shelter-in-place protocols are advised for these populations.