Health Experts Weigh In On Open vs Closed States

A recent Gallup poll determined 73% of Americans “think there’s a shortage of coronavirus tests” in the U.S. Additionally, the poll also concluded that there’s been a 23% drop in adults adhering to self-isolation measures the week prior to the poll. Feelings and opinions on the issue of when to safely resume state businesses remain mixed.

Healthline spoke with four healthcare professionals, each of whom serve the field in distinct ways—security, infectious disease, public health, and global epidemiology. Here’s what they offered in response to key questions.

What will be used as identifiers for states to reopen?

Amira Roiess, PhD, MPH, professor of Global Health and Epidemiology at George Mason University shared:

“We want to keep track of the number of cases, deaths, recovered, exposed, and number of contacts of confirmed or suspected cases. We also need to keep track of what healthcare resources are available.

Also, we need to make sure that we have trained individuals who can respond and conduct public health monitoring, contact tracing, and other related activities.”

How will it be determined if a state has opened too soon?

Michael Greenberger, JD, founder and director of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security replied:

“There are two state policy variants. One reopening variant adopts a cautious approach and only goes into effect when the number of infections and deaths are clearly trending downward over a set period of time. The other variant is to open without concern for data: just reopen.

New York represents the first variant that’s dependent on data. Texas and Georgia represent those states that will open without real reference to data.”

What markers are being used to alert states on dialing back?

Dr. Thomas A. Russo, professor and chief of infectious disease at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences indicated:

“If it goes flat, or there’s a small increase, we may not have to dial back. If we start to significantly fill up our hospitals again… I think then we have to start to take a hard look at reinstituting some of these measures. We don’t want to get into a situation where we run out of beds.”

Will Fall flu season impose additional risks for potential second wave? Has the COVID-19 outbreak prepared us for that possibility?

Rodney E. Rhode, PhD, professor in the College of Health Professions with a focus on public health microbiology at Texas State University says:

“I would hope that we as a nation are prepared to do what’s best for the health of vulnerable populations. However, as we are seeing with some civil unrest around employment and freedoms to move about the country to do what people want to do, I’m not certain that it will be “more easily enacted” a second or subsequent times. I believe it will come down to strong science communication.”

To read the full responses to each of these questions by these professionals, visit Healthline.

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