By Greg Bishop | The Center Square
Focus on the high risk communities, and get schools and workplaces back open. That’s the message from senior White House officials Monday who acknowledged the novel coronavirus can’t be eliminated.
The officials laid out the “Trump Administration’s Strategy to Safely Reopen America” during a background briefing call with media members Monday afternoon. That includes focused testing and mitigation efforts on long-term care facilities and similar settings where the most vulnerable live and congregate. They also urged the reopening of schools, allowing routine health care procedures, reopening workplaces, and avoiding future lockdowns locally.
Governors, mayors and other elected officials across the country began issuing stay-at-home and other restrictive orders in March to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The shutdown orders led to massive unemployment, increased mental health issues, lost educational opportunities and more.
Citing public health experts from around the globe who recently said prolonged lockdowns must end, the White House advisors said they’re not endorsing a plan; they say the plan from scientists around the world is endorsing policies President Donald Trump has pushed for months.
Critics have said Trump’s policies and calls for fewer government-mandated restrictions have led to more COVID-19 cases and deaths, which now total more than 215,000 in the U.S.
The senior health advisor and senior economic advisor on Monday’s call both said prolonged lockdowns are doing more harm that good when it comes to not just physical health but emotional and economic health.
One official said data indicates the economic impact of the lockdowns has hurt lower income people more, increasing mental health problems that could lead to deaths of despair. There were also concerns raised about the lost educational opportunities for children in remote learning environments, especially the impact on disadvantaged families, and that impact on future earnings of children as they enter the workforce.
The medical advisor expressed concern about lower numbers of cancer and other health screenings in times of lockdowns.
They acknowledged at the beginning of the pandemic that there wasn’t much known and it was important to flatten the curve with mitigation measures. But now it’s clear, they said, young and healthy people aren’t as impacted by COVID-19.