Despite the lack of focus on the topic to date, the messaging component of reopening the economy seems critically important to its success—as important as getting the timing right of the reopening. The administration needs to approach the American people where they are—anxious about the virus’ spread—and offer clear explanations not just for what they are doing, but why:
Why reopen a given area, sector, or activity now? Why not two weeks ago, or two weeks (or two months) from now?
What will the federal government do (and what can it do) regarding interstate travel? What happens to the businessman who needs to fly for work—will a governor in another state attempt to stop him or her from traveling?
The administration’s initial proposal to classify areas as high, medium, or low risk makes a great deal of sense. But what metrics will go into those classifications—number of cases, growth in cases, number of deaths, health-care capacity, or something else? Will the criteria remain transparent and objective, and not subject to political manipulation or pressure?
What metrics will determine any potential need to reactivate shutdown orders?