Only one state has met all of the criteria contained in guidelines issued by the federal government for safely reopening businesses and easing social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis by ProPublica. Despite the lack of progress by the overwhelming majority of states, Donald Trump is still pushing them to reopen.
ProPublica based its analysis on state-level data, updated daily, for five metrics stemming from the guidelines for reopening issued by the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its metrics are the number of positive tests per 100,000 people; the percentage of tests that are positive; the number of tests per 100,000 per day; the availability of ICU beds; and the number of hospital visits for "flu-like illness."
Thirty states have met only three of the goals or fewer, and three of them — Alabama, Alaska, and West Virginia — have met only one of the five.
As of Tuesday, Illinois was the only state to have met all five.
New York and California, two of the states hit hardest by the coronavirus, have each met four of the five criteria, with New York failing at ICU bed capacity and California failing to decrease the number of positive tests per 100,000 residents.
Despite most states falling short of standards the White House and CDC said were "based on the advice of public health experts," Trump is demanding states reopen businesses immediately, no matter the risks, for the benefit of the stock market.
"Stock Market up BIG, DOW crosses 25,000. S&P 500 over 3000. States should open up ASAP," Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. "The Transition to Greatness has started, ahead of schedule. There will be ups and downs, but next year will be one of the best ever!"
Trump has been pushing states to reopen for weeks against the advice of health experts.
Michigan has only met two of the five criteria for reopening, while Minnesota and Virginia have each met four.
"The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now," Trump tweeted on May 11, blaming Democrats for moving too slowly to reopen businesses. According to ProPublica, Pennsylvania has only met three of the five criteria set by the federal government.
During a May 12 Senate hearing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, warned that states would face "suffering and death that could be avoided" if they opted to ignore federal guidance and reopen too soon.
British researchers estimated that the virus is still spreading rapidly in 24 states across the South and Midwest, the Washington Post reported on May 22.
"There's evidence that the U.S. is not under control, as an entire country," said Samir Bhatt, a lecturer at London's Imperial College.
Over Memorial Day weekend, some states saw crowds flocking to beaches and other venues, largely ignoring social distancing guidelines, the Post reported.
"This reckless behavior endangers countless people and risks setting us back substantially from the progress we have made in slowing the spread of COVID-19," said Sam Page, the executive of St. Louis County in Missouri, in response to videos showing people flouting social distancing rules in the state.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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