President Donald Trump on Thursday laid out a three-phase road map to reopening the U.S. economy, closed for weeks after a virus from China invaded America.
In a phone call with governors, Trump set out an approach to restore regular activity, at first in places with few COVID-19 cases and later, as the virus fades, to the rest of the nation.
“We can begin the next front in our war, which we are calling ‘Opening Up America Again,’” Trump said during a press briefing at the White House. “To preserve the health of Americans, we must preserve the health of our economy.”
To the governors, Trump said: “You’re going to call your own shots,” according to an audio recording obtained by The Associated Press. “We’re going to be standing alongside of you.”
“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,” the AP reported.
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 identification and isolation of any new infections.
“We have a very large number of states that want to get going and they’re in very good shape,” Trump said in the phone call. “That’s good with us, frankly.”
“The ‘Opening Up America Again’ plan was signed off on by the president’s medical advisors, Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield, and will be a “data-driven” approach with governors taking the helm in deciding, down to a county-level, how they will reopen their states, the White House said,” Fox News reported.
“We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” Trump said, noting that the new guidelines were “based on hard verifiable data.”
“Some states will be able to open up sooner than others,” he said.
“This is a gradual process,” Trump said. “Throughout the process, citizens will still be called on to use all the weapons in this war.”
The new plan came on the same day that the federal government said another 5.2 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the four-week total to nearly 22 million out of a work force of 159 million — about 1 in 7 workers.