President Donald Trump has said that he wants to reopen the economy sooner rather than later, but a leaked report says that if that happens, there is a “significant risk” that the COVID-19 pandemic could have a resurgence.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Emergency Management Agency created a joint report that was obtained by The Washington Post. It indicates that even a cautious reopening of the economy after several weeks of intense social distancing “will entail a significant risk of resurgence of the virus.”
The document wants that there will be a “large rebound curve” if efforts to limit the spread of the disease are eased too quickly.
The only way to minimize the risk without a vaccine or effective treatment is to deploy testing across the United States. This will require hiring hundreds of workers to assist local and state health departments to do contact tracing and COVID-19 tests.
The document says that restrictions on social gatherings should continue to be limited until the number of cases is “genuinely low” and a fully-functioning monitoring system is in place. In addition to that, local hospitals should have enough beds and the ability to scale up their capacity — should the novel coronavirus begin to spread rapidly again.
Currently, the U.S. lacks the capacity to implement the kind of testing and tracing needed to safely reopen the economy. With 608,000 cases of coronavirus and 26,000 people dead from the disease in the U.S., the scale of the pandemic and the need for testing continues to grow, even as the number of tests being completed in the country has gone down in the past week by 30 percent.
The paper also lays out its recommendation for slowly reopening the economy, which would begin by opening schools and daycares so that people can return to work.
Another question that will need to be answered is whether or not people get immunity after having the virus and, if so, should they be issued some sort of documentation to allow them to start working again.
“No one knows whether a recovered covid-19 patient is actually immune to a new infection — or if they are immune, how complete or long-lasting that might be. Some kind of immunity post-infection is the most plausible scenario for covid-19 patients. That’s the pattern with most infectious diseases. … Yet there are preliminary reports out of South Korea and China, not yet peer-reviewed but gaining broad attention, that have surprised and baffled scientists. Some survivors test positive after they’ve been officially cured,” one expert noted.
The Washington Post reports that Trump has been made aware of the recommendation even as he and his second coronavirus task force prepare a plan for reopening the U.S. economy.