PHN Explores: Most states that are reopening fail to meet White House guidelines (From The New York Times)
PHN Content By Mat Edelson
If We Had Written the Headline
By reopening for business and ignoring recommended coronavirus safety guidelines, many states are putting money ahead of workers’ lives
Why You Should Care
We wouldn’t dare tell someone they shouldn’t return to work. But we also don’t think people should be mislead about how safe it is to go back to work, either. The evidence is mounting that many states’ government and business leaders are taking a gamble, hoping that coronavirus will somehow avoid workplaces, schools, restaurants, etc. Yet they’re unwilling–or unable–to back up that life or death bet with the amount of testing and public health vigilance White House experts say is necessary to keep the public safe. In our book, those states’ leaders are engaging in magical thinking, or in street terms, a sucker bet. We hope we’re wrong, but until then, caveat laborator; let the worker beware.
According to the Times story, 21 of 30 states either open or planning to open are not meeting the White House guidelines. That failure means that either; A) Their testing statewide is dropping, and/or; B) Their coronavirus caseloads are still rising, and/or; C) Their positive testing rate is above 10%.
Public health officials warn that if stay-at-home restrictions are loosened or dropped, any of these above factors could create an explosion of new cases. And though it’s not part of the White House guidelines, 28 of the 30 states the Times investigated fell below (and in some cases, far below) expert recommendations for the minimum amount of tests required to contain the current outbreak.
Kimberly Powers, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health
What can we say…sometimes the Times really does get out in front of a story. Here’s their look into the amount of testing experts feel is required to successfully combat coronavirus in the U.S.: Coronavirus Testing Needs to Triple Before the U.S. Can Reopen, Experts Say
If you’re interested in which states are partially or completely open, the Times has a regularly updated list here.