Public health experts are offering mixed reviews of the Trump Administrations broad, nonbinding guidelines for states to gradually lift social distancing measures currently in place to slow the pandemic spread of COVID-19.
The guidelines, unveiled Thursday, aim to avoid a second, overwhelming wave of disease by easing restrictions in three progressive phases. Each of those phases is gated, meaning that a set of criteria should be met before a state can enter a specific phase. Those gating criteria include states having two-week-long “downward trajectories” of confirmed COVID-19 cases and reports of infections with symptoms similar to COVID-19. States must also have the hospital capacity to treat all patients without “crisis care” and have a “robust” testing program.
The guidelines further lay out core “preparedness responsibilities” that each state should maintain throughout the phases. This criteria includes the ability to test all symptomatic cases and trace their contacts; to set up sentinel surveillance for asymptomatic cases; to have a sufficient supply chain of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, gowns, etc) for healthcare workers; and to have plans to protect at-risk workers and members of the public, such as healthcare workers, the elderly in living facilities, and workers and members of the public using mass transit.
The guidelines are not binding and President Trump left open to governors how and when to apply them to their states. This more hands-off approach is a reversal from Trumps earlier claim that he had “total authority” to override governors and reopen states.
The measured guidelines are also notable for not including any firm timelines or dates. Within recent weeks, Trump pushed for states to reopen by April 12 and—after that date passed—May 1. Public health experts criticized the suggestion, arguing that easing of distancing measures should be driven by data and access to resources to quash flare ups—not artificial deadlines.
Yet, despite the unspecified timing in the guidelines, Trump still suggested that several states could begin reopening quickly—some “literally tomorrow,” he said Thursday. Experts disagreed.
Barry Bloom, a distinguished professor of public health at Harvard, offered some praise for the Trump administrations plan overall. “It is quite a thoughtful plan,” he told reporters in a media call late Thursday night. He commended the plans phased nature, the continuation of some distancing measures, and its use of a data-driven timeline rather than hard deadlines.
But, Bloom noted that the plan was vague on many decisions, including the gating. Two week declines in cases is a short period for this disease, given that there can be a two-week lag between an infection and getting test results back.
The plan also doesnt offer guidance on what to do if a state experiences a resurgence of disease, whether its from undetected spread of disease or from introduction of new cases via travelers. The latter has been a particular issue for many places that have relaxed constraints, such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
Plus, the plan ”assumes that testing will be Read More – Source