Some states should not reduce social distance until at least June, according to modellers:

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South Carolina has authorized the reopening of retail stores to customers. It is one of the few states to relax restrictions on social distancing.

Dustin Chambers / Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Dustin Chambers / Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Carolina has authorized the reopening of retail stores to customers. It is one of the few states to relax restrictions on social distancing.

Dustin Chambers / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Across the United States, U.S. leaders are grappling with the difficult decision of when to loosen the social distancing restrictions that helped keep COVID-19 under control. Already this week, the Governor of Georgia has authorized the reopening of businesses ranging from gymnasiums to hair salons and cinemas – although he does not comply with most of the White House guidelines for phase 1 reopening . The governor of South Carolina has taken a similar approach – including the reopening of state beaches.

And governors of other states, including Tennessee and Ohio, have declared that they will allow the expiration of their residence orders next week, with varying degrees of social distancing required beyond this point.

But how should states decide when to reopen? Epidemiologists and other public health experts warn against moving too quickly. They note that the coronavirus is still circulating. Cases could again reach catastrophic levels unless appropriate action is taken. The consensus opinion is that states should not open up unless they have a robust system to detect and cancel new flares by testing to see who is infected, finding their contacts and isolating and quarantining if necessary.

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