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President Donald Trump is set to announce a draft plan to “reopen America” at his daily press conference on the coronavirus Wednesday afternoon after detailing his ideas on a phone call with governors from all 50 states at 3pm EST.
The president has spoken at length about the need for Americans to get back to work — a need driven home Thursday by revelations from the Department of Labor listing 5 million more Americans out of work, bringing the grand total of unemployed to 22 million. Experts now predict that, once coronavirus lockdowns are rolled back, the American unemployment rate could hover between 15% and 20%.
Experts caution that Americans returning to work too early could spike cases of COVID-19, rendering efforts taken in April and May to curb the spread of the virus moot, but the White House is reportedly considering a number of guidelines that would require extensive coronavirus testing, antibody testing, and careful assessment of benchmarks in fighting the disease.
CNN reports that the president’s plan is likely to include “guarantees of ramped-up coronavirus testing before people return to work” and “guidance to states on how to best assess whether they are ready to move away from social distancing, including creating specific thresholds for a reduction in cases and hospital capacity that would trigger a change in status.”
“Officials have also weighed options on how to reopen workplaces, including scaling up monitoring and recommending temperature checks; increasing the availability of testing, including antibody tests when they become available; new guidelines on how to best socially distance in workplaces, on public transportation and in public spaces like restaurants; and increased availability of masks or other face coverings,” the outlet reported Thursday.
On Wednesday, Abbott Laboratories announced a rapid antibody test that they believe will hit the market shortly, giving the White House the opportunity to also suggest that states could do widespread antibody testing — a system that could allow those who have had the virus to return to work provided they take specific safety precuations.
President Donald Trump said, earlier in the week, that he has “absolute authority” to force states to open up for business, but it does not see that the president is eager to make that challenge, particularly given that Pacific, easter seaboard, and midwestern states are already joining together to form their own plans to dial down coronavirus-related lockdowns.
The White House has acknowledged that, because states are at different points in the coronavirus “curve,” it is difficult to formulate a “one size fits all” approach to the virus or the economy.
The president also seems to believe reopening will be a long-term process and the White House has, to that end, issued invitations to business leaders, prominent CEOs, and members of both political parties, seeking their input on rolling back coronavirus restrictions. The Hill reports that “[a]mong those invited are Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA.), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Angus King (I-ME), who caucuses with Democrats.”
The president is expected to deliver his remarks on reopening the country around 5pm EST.