What Trump’s plan to reopen America gets right, and wrong

Finally, the plan rightly emphasizes vulnerable populations and senior living facilities. These facilities will remain at a high risk of explosive growth in cases until we can achieve widespread testing, vaccination and immunity. So the plan prohibits visits to them until the final phases and requires strict hygiene protocols when visits do occur.

That’s the good. Now the bad. The plan is a failure when it comes to testing, which everyone recognizes as a linchpin in any effort to reopen the country. It certainly assumes that testing will occur: A key metric for each phase of reopening is the trend in coronavirus cases. Accordingly, within a 14-day period there needs to be a “downward trajectory” of either documented cases or the percent of positive tests.

But there is no requirement that states first show that they have tested enough people to establish that the trajectories they are seeing are truly reflective of population-level trends. Overall, testing has been far too low for these trajectories to be relied on. Even after six weeks, barely 1 percent of the country’s population has been tested for Covid-19 and new daily tests have plateaued around 150,000. This is also not enough testing for effective levels of contact tracing.

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