Which US states are ready for phase 1 of reopening after coronavirus lockdown?

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By Peter Aitken-Fox News

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Several states have started to outline how they will reopen after a month of lockdown measures designed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

While some states have yet to see their peak, others have managed to flatten the curve, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying that “the worst is over” for New York state – the epicenter of the pandemic in America.

President Trump announced a plan on Thursday to reopen the country in three phases, based on the severity of the outbreak in each state or region.

“We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” Trump said, adding that the guidelines were “based on hard verifiable data.”

Initial phases call for states to maintain many of the current measures such as social distancing, avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people and avoiding unnecessary travel. Subsequent phases will ease each of these measures.

Ultimately, the governor of each state will decide when is best to reopen. As such, here are the states that have already confirmed that they plan to reopen, and when they plan to do so.

*Note, this list only includes the states which have so far indicated they are pushing forward with plans to begin reopening.

ALABAMA

Population: about 4.9 million

Unemployment: 3.5%

While the state only issued a stay-at-home order on April 4, Alabama has remained optimistic that it will be able to resume business and reopen by May 1.

Gov. Kay Ivey plans to reopen the state in phases, hoping to maintain social distancing needs while easing restrictions that will allow businesses to start up again.

ARIZONA

Population: about 7.3 million

Unemployment: 5.5%

Gov. Doug Ducey issued a “stay-at-home” order on March 31 and has remained optimistic that Arizona will be able to resume business at the end of the month.

“What’s happening here is what’s different than what’s happening in New York state and we hope we don’t get there but we’re preparing just in case,” Ducey said on Tuesday during a radio interview with KTAR News.

He also said in a tweet earlier this week that he wants “to get the economy moving and people back to work as soon as possible — when it is safe and healthy for people to do so.”

Arizona Department of Health Services Assitant Director Jessica Rigler said that the state would need to meet certain standards before properly reopening.

“We’d like to see a continued decrease in the rate of positive cases as well as hospitalizations … associated with COVID-19,” Rigler said in an interview on Wednesday.

ARKANSAS

Population: about 3 million

Unemployment: 4.8%

Arkansas has not issued any stay-at-home orders, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson has taken other measures to slow the pandemic in his state.

Schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic term, as will certain public spaces – including gyms, bars and restaurants. However, Hutchinson has said that he intends to explore resuming elective surgeries.

“We want to get (hospitals) back to doing the important health-care delivery that is important in our communities,” Hutchinson said during a press conference on Thursday.

COLORADO

Population: about 5.8 million

Unemployment: 4.5%

Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order on March 26 and extended it on April 9 following an increase in confirmed cases and deaths.

Polis remains optimistic that he can ease restrictions on April 26, when the state’s “stay-at-home” order is set to expire.

According to FOX 31, the governor said the state will focus on six principles: work to suppress the virus, increased ability to conduct testing and containment, additional protections for those most at risk, ability to handle increased demand, social distancing policies that can be sustainable and ongoing evaluation of policies and their impact.

The governor insisted that the rollback would be slow, with businesses potentially dividing workers into shifts or constructing barriers between employees.

“We want to dispel any notion that we can immediately go back to the way things were in January or February, because the virus will be with us,” Polis said.

“To prevent going right back where we where a month ago, in terms of a large surge in demand for care, we need to be able to jump quickly on new cases and isolate them,” said Dr. Glen Mays, the chair of the Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “That means testing.”

FLORIDA

Population: about 21.5 million

Unemployment: 4.3%

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a stay-at-home order on April 1, and he has shown no indication that he will extend it beyond its original April 30 expiration.

DeSantis is set to announce a task force that will examine how to reopen the state, prioritizing access to rapid testing for small businesses. He has also discussed possibly reopening schools in May, should conditions allow it.

“There has to be an easy way for somebody, if you have a small business you have 20 employees and someone has symptoms, to be able to go get a test and get an answer in a reasonable amount of time,” DeSantis said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“So we’re working on what that would look like, we’ve got folks working on a committee to see what we can do to make this testing more prevalent.”

On Friday, Jacksonville took steps “towards normalcy” by restoring public access to the beaches effective as of 5 P.M. Mayor Lenny Curry reiterated the need to maintain social distancing even while participating in the “essential” recreation.

“This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life,” Mayor Lenny Curry said. “Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety as well as for the safety of your neighbors.”

IDAHO

Population: about 1.8 million

Unemployment: 2.6%

Little extended his state’s “stay-at-home” order to end on April 30, but he also added notable exceptions to the order, allowing curbside and delivery service to resume.

“Idaho will be better positioned for a strong economic comeback because we are making difficult changes in how we live and work in the short-term,” Governor Little said.

“The statewide stay-home order is working to flatten the curve and slow the spread of coronavirus in Idaho, but the science tells us if you don’t time these measures right then we could worsen the outcome for citizens’ health and the economy weeks or months down the road.”

Little also said “non-essential” businesses should prepare to reopen after April 30 as long as they prepare operational plans over the next two weeks to maintain social distancing for staff and patrons; provide adequate sanitation and protective coverings for employees, vendors, and patrons; offer curbside and pickup delivery; limit number of people in business at a time; and direct flow of people in the operation.

INDIANA

Population: about 6.7 million

Unemployment: 3.2%

Gov. Eric Holcomb indicated on Thursday that the state will look to try and reopen the economy in early May.

Holcomb said officials are “looking at the numbers … we want to see these numbers hold.”

While he said he wants to hit the ground running, Holcomb acknowledged that it won’t be a quick process.

“It’ll be methodical, data driven, rolling, gradual, incremental process. It won’t go 0 to 100, not like flipping a light switch…we didn’t arrive overnight and we won’t get out of the woods overnight,” he said.

Holcomb issued a “stay-at-home” order that is set to expire on April 20.

IOWA

Population: about 3.2 million

Unemployment: 3.7%

While Gov. Kim Reynolds did not issue a “stay-at-home” order for her state, she did declare a state of emergency, closing all non-essential business until April 30.

According to The Gazette, Reynolds is optimistic about President Trump’s plan to reopen the country.

“He walked through the guidelines and opening America back up again,” Reynolds said. “He kind of walked through broadly some of the recommendations that the (CDC) and his team have put together. He just said this is a partnership. It’s up to the governors to actually pull the trigger and do what they need to do but these are some guidelines that they can utilize.”

During an interview with Radio Iowa, Reynolds said, “That’s not going to be beneficial for anybody. We don’t want to open things up, only to say in a week: ‘We’ve got [to] shut it back down.’”

“Everybody should be making plans because at some point, you know, as we base the decisions based on data, we want to open up this economy.”

Reynolds indicated that she is looking at May to start reopening the economy.

KANSAS

Population: about 2.9 million

Unemployment: 3.1%

Gov. Laura Kelly has extended her state’s “stay-at-home” order, but she is pressing ahead with talks to reopen the economy.

Initially set to expire on April 19, Kansas will now remain in lockdown until May 3.

According to her statement, Kelly “will consult with business leaders, health experts, economists and other industry and community leaders to determine the best path forward beyond that point, and re-open the Kansas economy safely and effectively.”

Kelly also identified specific measures that would need to be in place to help reopen businesses, including “rapid testing, contact tracing and isolation efforts.”

MINNESOTA

Population: around 5.6 million

Unemployment: 3.1%

Gov. Tim Walz on Friday eased restrictions on recreational activities, taking first steps toward easing wider restrictions.

The new order reopens a wide range of locations, including golf courses, hiking trails, public docks, boat and vehicle repair shops, outdoor shooting ranges and bait shops. The order specifies that campgrounds and dispersed camping, outdoor recreational equipment retail stores, recreational equipment rental, charter boats, launches, and guided fishing remain closed.

Walz extended his state’s “stay-at-home” order until May 4. When he extended the order, he cited the necessity of remaining vigilant.

“We cannot rest easy,” Walz said, speaking from the State Emergency Operations Center in St. Paul. “This thing can explode overnight if you don’t take the proper precautions.”

MISSISSIPPI

Population: about 3 million

Unemployment: 5.3%

Gov. Tate Reeves is eager to return to business as usual, but he extended the state’s “shelter-in-place” order by a week.

“I want it to end as quickly as possible,” Reeves said in a livestream on Friday morning. “The curve is flattening. We are at the worst, hardest, most difficult point in the curve.”

The order, originally set to expire on April 20, will now expire closer to the federally suggested timeline. Reeves extended the order after determining that the state currently falls short of the standard outlined in President Trump’s plan.

Reeve reiterated his desire to return to normal, citing heavy financial burdens and increasing concerns in the face of rising unemployment.

“One more week of vigilance,” Reeves pleaded. “It has to work for one more week, and then we can reopen our state.”

MISSOURI

Population: about 9.9 million

Unemployment: 4.5%

Gov. Mike Parson has announced that he will look to take a ‘phased approach’ to reopen his state.

Parson extended his state’s “stay-at-home” order to May 3, though NPR notes that many cities in the state will maintain their local measures for longer.

“I think you could see that in the next several weeks, we’ll have a phased approach,” Gov. Parson said in an interview on Wednesday. “We’ll probably open the state up for economics, probably different areas of the state at different times.”

According to KTVO, Parson outlined two phases for reopening the state. These phases involve multiple steps that take into consideration the state’s “data-driven approach.”

MONTANA

Population: about 1.1 million

Unemployment: 3.5%

Gov. Steve Bullock initially extended the state’s “stay-at-home” order until April 24, but local officials are optimistic that they can start to reopen businesses.

Gallatin City-County Health Department announced that they believe the county is flattening the curve.

“We’re committed to reopening as soon as we can,” said health officer Matt Kelley. “We’re also committed to a way we can stay open. Businesses are coming up with ideas where they would open up at a fraction of their capacity. We want to avoid the situation where we have a really rapid increase in cases.”

In a tele-town hall, Bullock said that following state guidelines will allow the state to resume business “sooner rather than later.”

NEVADA

Population: about 3.1 million

Unemployment: 6.3%

Gov. Steve Sisolak said on Thursday that the state is preparing a plan to reopen after a month of closures.

“As your governor, I assure you we’re working on the strongest plan possible to reopen our business and our communities, one that will focus on putting the health and safety of Nevadans first and sets us up for a strong economic recovery,” Sisolak said.

During a press conference, Sisolak stated that no clear date has been determined, but that they will last until at least the current deadline of April 30.  Sisolak extended the order from its original deadline at the beginning of April.

“If we reopen and we’re not ready with the best plan possible, all the incredible work you’ve done will have been wasted and will run the risk of hurting our economy even more,” Sisolak said. “As soon as we finalize our state-specific plan to reopen, I will be right here, telling you exactly how we are going to do it.”

Sisolek faces pressure from within the state to reopen sooner rather than later. On Wednesday, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman pleaded with the governor to allow the city to start working again.

“For heaven’s sake, being closed is killing us already and killing Las Vegas, our industry, our convention and tourism business that we have all worked so hard to build,” Goodman said during a city council meeting. “The longer we wait to do this, the more impossible it will become to recover.”

NORTH DAKOTA

Population: about 762,000

Unemployment: 2.2%

Earlier this week, Gov. Doug Burgum extended restrictions on certain businesses. The new deadline is set on April 30, which the governor noted is in line with the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America.

“We’re doing this to protect the health and safety of business owners, their employees and their customers,” Burgum said.

North Dakota is one of the few states to not issue a stay-at-home order, though the governor has issued a number of measures, including social distancing, school closures and business restrictions.

Burgum’s statement outlined that the state will only reopen next month if the state can achieve “robust” testing and contact tracing, as well as measures for additional waves or resurgence such as sufficient hospital capacity and adequate PPE availability.

OHIO

Population: about 11.7 million

Unemployment: 3.1%

Gov. Mike DeWine reiterated on Thursday that the state plans to reopen on May 1.

“Ohioans have done a great job, a phenomenal job, fighting back, staying home, ensuring physical distancing. We’ve been doing all the things that needed to be done. I’ve never been prouder to be an Ohioan and I’m very grateful for what you have done. You have flattened the curve,” said Governor Mike DeWine.

The initial stay-at-home order, issued on March 22, was extended from its original expiration on April 4 until the end of the month, but the governor indicates that there are bigger issues at stake.

DeWine’s statement insists that the plan will be “fact-driven” and guided by an economic board led by Lt. Governor Jon Husted.

OKLAHOMA

Population: about 4 million

Unemployment: 3.1%

Gov. Kevin Stitt believes that the state can look to reopen at the end of the month.

Stitt revealed during an interview with KRMG that he plans to start a “methodical” opening of the state starting May 1, according to a report by Tulsa World.

“We’re going to make data-driven decisions based on what’s right for Oklahomans,” Stitt said.

“We like kind of a phased-in approach,” Stitt said, adding that he is confident that in the state’s ability to test and control hotspots.

While non-essential businesses will remain closed until April 30, Stitt announced that elective surgeries will resume on April 24. He also extended a “safer at home” order for citizens over 65, now set to expire on May 4.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Population: about 5.1 million

Unemployment: 2.6%

Gov. Henry McMaster took initial steps to opening up his state, ordering public boat ramps open effective noon on Friday.

The order aims to jumpstart recreational activities as long as social distancing protocols are maintained. South Carolina stopped short of a full lockdown, instead issuing a “work from home” advisory on April 6.

While McMaster did not offer a specific date, he said during a press conference on Thursday that the timeline could be within a few weeks.

“That is our goal: to remove those restrictions as quickly as we can,” McMaster said. “We were right at the top of our game and growing and we want to get back there.”

SOUTH DAKOTA

Population: about 885,000

Unemployment: 3.3%

Gov. Kristi Noem has been the most outspoken opponent of extreme lockdown measures, resisting calls to issue any “stay-at-home” orders for her state.

Noem has spent the past week fiercely defending her position. She appeared on “The Ingraham Angle” on Thursday night to explain her decisions.

“I took an oath when I was in Congress obviously to uphold the Constitution of the United States,” she continued. “I believe in our freedoms and liberties. What I’ve seen across the country is so many people give up their liberties for just a little bit of security and they don’t have to do that.”

“The people of South Dakota can be trusted to make good decisions. We have common sense. That’s why people want to live here and that’s why I love living here.”

South Dakota has struggled with a hotspot in a pork harvesting plant, forcing Noem to close down the facility. She is hoping to reopen the facility by next week.

TENNESSEE

Population: about 6.8 million

Unemployment: 3.5%

Gov. Bill Lee issued a “stay-at-home” order for his state on March 30, extending it this week until April 30.

Despite the extension, Lee believes the state can start to look at reopening.

“We haven’t made any decisions about how it is that we will stage this reopening specifically, but certainly geographic locations will be weighed as we develop that plan,” Lee said during a press conference on Thursday.

According to the Tennessean, Lee is working with the “Big Four” mayors of his state to develop the plan that will allow the state to reopen.

“Thanks to the cooperation of our residents, we have seen success in ‘flattening the curve’ in our communities, but we know that our economies cannot remain closed indefinitely,” said Indya Kincannon, Mayor of Knoxville. “The members of this Task Force will help us implement responsible, data-driven strategies to protect the public and ensure that our partners in the business community can operate.”

TEXAS

Population: about 29 million

Unemployment: 4.7%

Gov. Greg Abbott announced a number of measures on Friday that will see the state easing restrictions across the following week.

On April 20, Texas parks will be open for recreational activity, as long as citizens wear face masks and maintain social distancing. Additionally, no groups larger than 5 people will be allowed to congregate.

Subsequent measures – effective April 22 and 24, respectively – will allow hospitals to resume elective surgeries and stores to start “retail to go” services.

“We have shown that Texas can continue our efforts to contain COVID-19 while also adopting safe standards that will allow us to begin the process of reopening Texas,” Abbot said in a statement released on Friday.

Abbott also announced the establishment of a Strike Force to Open Texas – a team of nationally recognized medical experts as well as private and public leaders who will advise the Governor on safely and strategically reopening the state.

Abbott first issued an order telling Texans to stay at home, but he never accepted that it was a “stay-at-home” lockdown in the same manner as those adopted by other states. The order is set to expire on April 30, which puts Texas on track to match the federally suggested timeline.

WYOMING

Population: about 579,000

Unemployment: 3.7%

While Wyoming has not issued a “stay-at-home” order, Gov. Mark Gordon issued three major directives, which fall just short of “stay-at-home”: school closures, restricting businesses to curbside service or delivery services and limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people.

Gordon extended the orders until April 30 and added a measure requiring all out-of-state visitors to quarantine for 14 days.

While he has not issued a “stay-at-home” order, Gordon did declare a state of emergency and appealed for federal assistance.

“Though Wyoming has not reached the dire situations of some states, this declaration will help us to prepare and mobilize resources when we need them,” Governor Gordon said in a news release. “I look forward to a swift response to our request from the federal government.”

New York born-and-raised reporter with a focus on national and global news.

 

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