Story at a glance
- Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security released guidance for states last month outlining steps to safely lift restrictions.
- Caitlin Rivers, a researcher at the center, told lawmakers all states have fallen short in meeting criteria to reopen.
- This comes as several states begin to lift lockdown measures.
Several states across the country are beginning to lift lockdown measures meant to stop the spread of COVID-19, but an infectious disease epidemiologist testified before lawmakers Wednesday, warning no states have met the center’s criteria to safely reopen.
Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security developed a guidance for governors last month, outlining steps to reduce coronavirus transmission for phased reopenings.
Caitlin Rivers, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security who co-authored the guidance, testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday, saying states have fallen short in meeting four criteria for reopening.
“The first is to see the number of new cases decline for at least two weeks, and some states have met that criteria. But there are three other criteria and we suggest they should all be met,” Rivers said.
Those include “enough public health capacity to conduct contact tracing on all new cases, enough diagnostic testing to test everybody with COVID-like symptoms,” and “enough health care system capacity to treat everyone safely.”
“To my knowledge, there are no states that meet all four of those criteria,” Rivers said.
Rivers in her opening statement noted her comments were her own and did not reflect the university in her opening statement, and said not all states have adopted the criteria.
“It is clear to me that we are in a critical moment of this fight,” Rivers said in her opening statement.
“We risk complacency in accepting the preventable deaths of 2,000 Americans each day. We risk complacency in accepting that our health care workers do not have what they need to do their jobs safely. And we risk complacency in recognizing that without continued vigilance in slowing transmission, we will again create the conditions that led to us being the worst-affected country in the world,” the researcher said.
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The White House has published its own “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again,” which includes such criteria as a downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses and COVID-19 symptoms reported within a 14-day period, a decreasing number of positive tests or documented cases and a robust testing program for at-risk workers.
Most states that are reopening are failing to meet the White House guidelines as well, according to The New York Times.
The Times reports in more than half of states easing restrictions, case counts are trending upward or positive test results are increasing, or both for some states. At least 30 states have started to reopen or plan to reopen soon.
More than 1.2 million COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the U.S. with more than 73,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
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