- Paused COVID-19 Reopenings Reflect Setbacks, Not a Failure of Protocols
he recent surges in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Texas, Florida, and California have forced their governors to pause their states’ reopening plans to restrict further spread and to prevent area medical systems from being overwhelmed. Some are claiming that means reopening plans are not working and represent reckless behavior. In reality, however, the governors are appropriately pausing to assess the developing situation and react to the new data. That’s a planned fallback and an important aspect of a flexible and robust reopening strategy that balances protecting both lives and livelihoods.As expected with reopening, we have begun to see incidences of COVID-19 begin to rise again. That’s no surprise. From the beginning, we knew reopening could result in rising case numbers and that there may be hot spots where a governor or mayor might need to target mitigation measures to stop and slow the spread of the disease. States are in various stages of reopening, with many officials implementing a phased approach. The purpose of the phased plan was for a more predictable and manageable pattern of cases. In fact, the incidence of COVID-19 had been fairly stable in the month of May, when Texas began its first phases of slowly reopening and returning to a modicum of normalcy. However, based on new data, Texas, for instance, has frozen its efforts to reopen the state and closed bars. Florida and California also closed bars, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis citing “widespread noncompliance” with rules regarding capacity and social distancing. In addition, local officials in Tarrant County implemented a face mask ordinance, and officials in Dallas, Bexar, Harris, and several other counties in Texas have ordered businesses to require masks for employees and customers. Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered hospitals to suspend elective or nonessential procedures in four counties with the greatest surge of cases.