A leaked plan by FEMA and the CDC says they will reopen the US in phases from May, starting with schools, then parks and religious institutions

By Tom Porter

Two of the main federal government agencies responsible for the US response to the coronavirus crisis have drawn up plans for a phased reopening of the US economy in May, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. 

The strategy for lifting lockdown and restarting the US economy were created by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and compiled in a document called "A Framework for Re-Opening America," according to The Post.

The document is reportedly part of a larger plan to lift quarantine and allow normal life to resume. 

You can read it here.

Under the plans, once lockdown is lifted, the phased reopening would depend on specific conditions in individual states, and would begin with schools and other childcare facilities. 

It would require states to show that incidence of infection is "genuinely low," and that they have the capacity to monitor cases, treat existing cases, and react to a surge in new cases. 

The agencies do note that, if put in action, the plan "will entail a significant risk of resurgence of the virus."

But one official told The Post that Trump is fixed on lifting lockdown after May 1 and officials are scrambling to do what they can to ensure it does not lead to a huge surge in new cases.

Trump also told reporters on Tuesday evening that he wants to reopen the US economy "at a time that will be earlier than the deadline that we imposed, the end of April," according to The New York Times.

Trump FEMA
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attend a meeting at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters on March 19, 2020.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool

The president had on Tuesday also said that he would discuss with state governors the implementation of plans to lift lockdown at a time and date suited to each state.

The unnamed official told The Post: "Beneath the bluster of the president saying May 1, and he's in charge, and all the other things, there are real efforts to figure out how we could safely and actually do this."

After the White House issued a federal lockdown advisory on March 16, Trump has repeatedly a spoken of his desire to reopen the US economy at the soonest opportunity, tweeting: "We can't have the cure be worse than the problem." 

He initially floated the idea of reopening the economy by Easter, but heeding the advice of top public-health officials, extended the lockdown advisory until the end of April.

Other top experts have also warned against reopening the country too early. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told Business Insider's Charles Davis last week: "Our testing infrastructure, which was abysmal, is now mediocre, but nowhere near adequate for opening up."

Trump is pressing ahead with plans to lift the lockdown despite the US' having the highest number of coronavirus patients and deaths in the world. He is assembling a team of economic experts and business leaders to plan the reopening of the economy.