Opening Up America

I watched the press conference that previewed the President’s program to restart America.  I must say it sounds a lot like my own take on how it should be done.  The President allowed his three doctors to walk us through the medical criteria that would be used to determine when a particular state had reached the health thresholds needed to progress to the first, second and third stages of the process.  One useful visual aid were three graphics that showed the United States over the last couple of months of the crisis with the states colored by the severity of the pandemic in each state.  What was apparent was that most of the country is only lightly affected by the COVID-19 disease.  And that in certain areas like the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana the caseloads and the infection rates are so low that it will be safe to proceed directly to the first stage of the reopening process.  And the doctors used all the comforting scientific jargon about gating the progress and sentinel surveillance site testing to avoid a resurgence caused by asymptomatic cases mixed in with the unaffected.

And it was good to hear the President reassure the people in the hardest hit areas like New York and New Jersey that their states will be allowed to maintain the heightened shutdown they currently need but at the same time allow people in relatively unaffected areas to follow safe but much less restrictive protocols that will allow them to go back to work and normalize their lives again.  The President stressed that the elderly and the infirm will be the focus of quarantine efforts going forward because these are the populations where ninety percent of the deaths are occurring.

And finally, I heard the President reiterating the need to provide relief to the small businesses and their employees who are the primary victims of the business shutdown that we currently have.  He stressed that the end game is to get back to a point where a restaurant or a sports stadium will be able to serve its clientele as it was designed to, not half full or almost empty.  Infrastructure projects were also mentioned and that is to the good too because those types of projects have a follow-on effect for the rest of the economy in the areas where they are located.

So, from all ways of looking at this announcement, it was a winning performance.  It was scientific, authoritative and quantitative.  It was practical, flexible and not some kind of one size fits all approach.  It provided very good news for a large area of the country that is either moderately or minimally impacted by the virus, that things will be getting back to normal very soon.  But it deprived the gloom and doomers in the northeast from accusing the President of ordering them into danger.  That means the Governors in those areas will be responsible for making the difficult decision of when they will start transitioning their states back to much needed productivity.  And they probably wish they could use the President as a scapegoat because the economies in those areas are being decimated and waiting for the crisis to be completely over before loosening the quarantine is probably impossible.  So, the resurgences that are bound to occur during the loosening of quarantine are bound to be highlighted by the media.  Well, let them work that out for themselves.

A very good press conference all in all and a good day for the country in its journey back to normalcy.