Georgia governor: We're (partially) reopening for business -- this Friday

I feel about this the way I feel about Sweden’s no-lockdowns experiment. Glad that someone’s doing it, so we can see how much better or worse it is than the standard model, annnnnnd glad that I’m not personally participating in it.

Not sure I follow his logic on which businesses can open and which can’t, though. Restaurants are okay (if proper social distancing protocols are followed) but not bars?

Some Georgia businesses including gyms, hair and nail salons and bowling alleys will be allowed to open Friday as the state moves toward reopening its economy.

Gov. Brian Kemp (R) said Monday those businesses will be required to stagger shifts, keep workspaces six feet apartment and screen workers for respiratory illnesses and fevers. Workers may also have to wear masks and gloves when “appropriate.”

Theaters, private social clubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen April 27 and will be required to follow the same requirements. Bars and nightclubs will remain closed.

It’s impossible for staff to keep their distance in barber shops and nail salons, notes Amanda Carpenter. Shouldn’t those logically be among the last to reopen?

Brian Kemp is one of three governors to announce partial reopenings today. Coincidentally, they’re all Republicans and all from red southern states. No doubt the president will speak warmly of them at today’s briefing. (As I write this, it has yet to begin.) Should he speak warmly of them, though, given what the federal guidelines that he promulgated late last week have to say? Here’s the part about what states should look to in deciding whether to reopen:

I can’t find Georgia’s data on ILIs or hospital capacity but their data on new cases is available at the Department of Public Health website. They’ve had encouraging results — over the past five days, not 14.

The curve of new cases has flattened, but only very recently. It hasn’t actually declined.

There’s a discrepancy between the data on the DPH site and the data at the COVID Tracking Project. At DPH, today’s deaths are the smallest number yet for Georgia, just four in all. At the Tracking Project site there were 46 new deaths, an increase from Saturday and Sunday. A week ago there were 31 new deaths from Sunday to Monday. Today’s number tops that. Pretty clearly, Kemp isn’t following the federal guidelines.

But then, Trump isn’t following them either. The odds of the president praising Kemp ecstatically for moving too early versus criticizing him for departing from his own policy are 100 to zero.

I’d guesstimate that if there’s a new outbreak we should see case counts beginning to rise by mid-May and a bump in deaths by the end of the month. Hopefully, because of Kemp’s insistence that businesses take proper precautions, that bump will only be very slight. We’ll have a sense of how much “pent-up demand” there is among consumers for retail services like restaurants sooner. A new online poll from YouGov suggests that there’s some, but probably much less than most businesses need to live off of. YouGov asked, “If restaurants in your area reopened in for sit-down dining in May, how comfortable, if at all, would you be visiting these restaurants?”

A little more than a third nationally are at least somewhat inclined to take a chance. That percentage in Georgia should grow after a few weeks as people on the fence look around and don’t see any spike in cases. Whether the trend persists will depend on whether a spike comes later in the month. And for the “not comfortable at all” crowd, it may be much longer before they reemerge regardless of what the data looks like. Twenty-eight percent is … a lot of demand to withdraw from the service industry.

Exit question: Didn’t this guy find out only recently that asymptomatic people are infectious?