Trump gives governors 3-phase plan to reopen economy

    President Donald Trump in Washington.

    Washington, DC (AP) - President Donald Trump gave governors a road map Thursday for recovering from the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Trump rolled out a document with a phased approach to restoring normal activity in places that have strong testing and are seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases.

    “You’re going to call your own shots,” Trump told the governors, according to an audio recording obtained by The Associated Press. “We’re going to be standing alongside you.”

    The new guidelines are aimed at easing restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus while holding the line in harder-hit locations. They make clear that the return to normalcy will be a far longer process than Trump initially envisioned, with federal officials warning that some social distancing measures may need to remain in place through the end of the year to prevent a new outbreak.

    Places with declining infections and strong testing would begin a three-phased gradual reopening of businesses and schools — each phase lasting at least 14 days — to ensure that infections don’t accelerate again.

    In phase one, for instance, the plan recommends strict social distancing for all people in public. Gatherings larger than 10 people are to be avoided and nonessential travel is discouraged.

    In phase two, people are encouraged to maximize social distancing where possible and limit gatherings to no more than 50 people unless precautionary measures are taken. Travel could resume.

    Phase three envisions a return to normalcy for most Americans, with a focus on the identification and isolation of any new infections.

    Governors of both parties made clear they will move at their own pace.

    Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, said the guidelines “seem to make sense.”

    “We’re days, maybe weeks away from the starting line and then you have to have 14 days of declining cases, of declining symptoms and hospital capacity that exists in case you have a rebound,” he said.

    West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Trump ally, cautiously floated the idea of reopening parts of the state but said testing capacity and contact tracing would need to be considerably ramped up before restrictions could be safely lifted.

    “All would be forgotten very quickly if we moved into a stage quicker than we should, and then we got into a situation where we had people dying like flies,” Justice told reporters.


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