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How Does Kentucky Stack Up with White House's New "Opening Up America Again" Criteria?


Yesterday, the White House announced its public health expert led plan to begin reopening the US economy. The plan, known as "Opening Up America Again," allows for a phased return to normal, helping to mitigate the potential for additional waves of COVID-19 and protecting the most vulnerable. A full copy of the plan, provided by the White House, is available here.

What are the Three Phases?

Phase One

Individuals

- Vulnerable populations continue sheltering in place

- When in public, maximize physical distancing

- Avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people

- Minimize non-essential travel

Employers

- Consider special accommodations for vulnerable populations

- Encourage telework

- Return to work in phases

- Minimize non-essential travel

Specific Cases

- Schools should remain closed

- Visits to senior living facilities and hospitals should be prohibited

- Sit down dining can resume under physical distancing protocols

- Gyms can reopen under physical distancing protocols

- Elective Surgeries can resume.

Phase Two

Individuals

- Vulnerable populations continue to shelter in place

- When in public, maximize physical distancing

- Avoid socializing in groups of more than 50 people

- Non-essential travel can resume

Employers

- Consider special accommodations for vulnerable populations

- Continue to encourage telework

- Close common areas

- Non-essential travel can resume

Specific Cases

- Schools, daycares, and camps can reopen

- Visits to senior living facilities and hospitals should be prohibited

- Large venues can operate under moderate physical distancing protocols

- Elective surgeries for in-patient and out-patient can resume

Phase Three

Individuals

- Vulnerable populations can resume public interaction with physical distancing

- Low risk populations should minimize time spent in crowds environments

Employers

- Resume unrestricted staffing

Specific Cases

- Visits to senior living facilities and hospitals can resume

- Large venues can operate under limited physical distancing protocols

What Criteria Has to Be Met?

For states to proceed to this phased opening they must satisfy three criteria.

Symptoms

- Downward trajectory of influenza like illnesses reported within a 14 day period (AND) downward trajectory of COVID like syndromic cases reported within a 14 day period

Cases

- Downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14 day period (OR) downward trajectory of positive tests as a percentage of total tests within a 14 day period

Hospitals

Treat all patients without crisis care (AND) Robust resting programs in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emergency anti-body testing.

So, How Does Kentucky Stack Up?

The positive news first. In the first point of criteria, the downward trajectory of influenza like illnesses reported, Kentucky easily makes the mark. In fact, the state has been on a downward trajectory in this area since its peak in February.

Graphs from the White House also provide evidence of this trend, showing Kentucky moving from "moderate" activity for influenza like illnesses in the week ending on March 28th to the most minimal level in the week ending on April 11th.

The criteria for hospitals provides equally encouraging signs for Kentucky. The most recent available data shows that Kentucky has 289 individuals hospitalized for COVID-19 with 136 people currently in the ICU. This is nowhere near the capacity of Kentucky's total available bed space with 6,210 beds available and an estimated 448 ICU beds available. These totals do not include field hospitals which have been set up, or are being set up, around the commonwealth. A field hospital at the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center provides an additional 250 beds and is currently operational. A field hospital on the University of Kentucky's campus will provide 400 additional beds.

Now for the negative. The data that we have available provides tremendous hope that the state can proceed to Phase One, but some areas of insufficient data leaves questions marks. A Pegasus Institute report earlier today showed that Kentucky has fallen well behind neighboring states in testing which prevents us from confidently saying that we meet every criteria. Reports of new drive thru testing available in two counties and partnerships with retailers are positives but could their delayed roll out and potential bottlenecks on testing results could slow the states reopening. It is unclear why Kentucky has fallen so far behind its neighbors.

In all, the data that we do have is positive. Kentucky has not experienced a spike in cases that overwhelmed medical resources, a fear which provided the justification for economic shut downs. More information is needed but many signs points towards Kentucky moving to Phase One of the "Opening Up America Again" Plan and towards reopening the economy in relatively short order. Earlier this week, Governor Beshear announced coordination with Governors from Indiana and Ohio just one day before Ohio Governor Mike Dewine announced his state would begin reopening on May 1st.

#COVID19 #Coronavirus #Kentucky #KentuckyEconomy #Trump #DonaldTrump #WhiteHouse #OpeningUpAmericaAgain #Ohio #MikeDeWine #AndyBeshear #Influenza

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