But some health experts and medical groups have warned that the United States is still lagging behind in its testing capacity – a key factor in the process of reopening the country to help determine and track the number of people infected.
In a three-part guideline released this week, the White House said states could enter the first phase of the reopening once they saw a two-week continuous decline.
According to Saturday morning, there were more than 706,000 confirmed cases in the United States and at least 37,079 people had died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, an influential model of the virus who is often quoted by the White House says that some states with low caseloads could start lifting measures on May 4. These include Vermont, West Virginia, Montana and Hawaii.
Others, including Iowa, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Utah, Arkansas and Oklahoma, may have to wait until late June or early July.
“Actual state decisions to reduce social distance should be informed by meeting critical parameters closer to these dates, including a very small number of estimated infections in the community – less than one estimated infection per 1 million people Said the Institute for Health Metrics. and evaluation at the University of Washington (IHME), where the model was created, said in a press release.
Montana, which still has one of the lowest cases in the country, says it is not ready to reopen.
“Even the trigger criteria (of two consecutive weeks with new cases of slowdown) that the president presented yesterday – we didn’t meet those criteria,” said Governor Steve Bullock on Friday.
Where the measures are lifted
Texas Governor Greg Abbott released an executive order Friday to relax measures next week – ordering state parks to reopen on Monday but requiring residents to wear face covers, keep their distance and stay in groups of five people or less.
Texas has more than 18,000 reported infections, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University, making it one of the states with the most cases.
Governor also ordered retail stores to reopen on April 24 and rather deliver products to customers’ cars and homes. He said the state’s reopening process will take place gradually and will be guided by medical experts.
US Representative Lloyd Doggett, criticizing the governor’s decision, said there would be a “cost of doing it prematurely when there are so many questions about the accuracy of the tests, so many dangers to ignore social distancing. I find his orders disturbing. “
In Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz signed an order allowing many outdoor activities – including golfing, boating, hunting and biking – to resume on Saturday morning, as long as residents follow distance guidelines social, avoid crowded spaces and stay close to home.
“The only way it will work even with something like golf or shooting ranges or trails is if we follow them, washing our hands, staying at home (guidelines). If you are sick, cough in your sleeve, wear a mask. Walz said at a press conference on Friday.
U.S. still lagging behind in tests, expert says
Experts have long said that one of the main determinants of governors’ decisions to reopen their economies should be tested, and medical experts continue to insist that the country is behind schedule.
Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday that the White House Coronavirus task force believes the United States has the testing capacity for states to begin easing – the first of three phases in the federal guide of reopening the country.
Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, says the current number of tests done in the country – less than 150,000 a day – is not enough.
“If we were just testing the highest priority people and no one else, we would need about three times as many tests,” Frieden told CNN. But since the United States is also testing lower priority people, the country would need 10 to 20 times more tests than that, said Frieden.
And earlier this week, the Association of American Medical Colleges sent a letter to the government’s task force saying that laboratories are facing critical shortages.
“Laboratories across the country are working around the clock to increase testing capacity but are severely hampered by shortages of necessary reagents, test buffers, PPE and specialized equipment designed by companies to be used with their own machines, “he said.
More protests expected on home stay orders
But despite lingering uncertainty about the country’s testing capacity, governors face new pressure: angry residents demanding the end of home support orders due to concerns about the economic impact.
Protesters gathered in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, Utah and California to express opposition to the measures.
“A small segment of the state protests and it is their right,” Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer told CNN. “The sad part, however, is that the longer they are outside, the more likely they are to spread Covid-19,” said Whitmer, “and the more likely we will have to adopt this posture for a longer period of time. ”
Others are planned for the next few days, notably in Wisconsin, Kansas and Missouri.
Ben Dorr, who organized the Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantine group, told CNN affiliate WFRV that he feared economic destruction.
“Hundreds of thousands of workers are unemployed. Hundreds and thousands of small family businesses are being destroyed under this quarantine, under this lockdown, “Dorr told the news station.
“Many small businesses could not afford to keep their doors closed for a week or two, we are now talking about another month. Thousands of small businesses will close their doors forever, ”he added.
CNN’s Ben Tinker, Janine Mack, Betsy Klein, Andy Rose, Arman Azad and Curt Devine contributed to this report.