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COVID-19 Cases Plateauing in Some Areas Not the Time to Relax, Say Experts

States and cities across the nation are taking tentative steps toward easing current restrictions and allowing businesses to begin reopening—or at least contemplating how to do so--a welcome prospect for the millions of Americans working from home (or not working at all), sheltering in place, and wondering when some semblance of normalcy might return to a shell-shocked nation. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, state governors are working with federal emergency officials and suppliers in the private sector to secure the mass testing materials they say are crucial before an economic restart could be viable. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has been quoted as saying that the Garden State’s testing sites will have to “at least double” their capacity before he believes it will be safe enough to restart the economy—and that to do that, the state “needs the feds in a big way.” In an April 21 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said that he would like to see 5,000 or even 10,000 Philadelphians being tested per day.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced over the April 18-19 weekend that new cases and hospitalizations for coronavirus infections appear to be slowing somewhat in the Empire State, which has so far borne the brunt of the pandemic in the US, with nearly 320,000 confirmed cases, and nearly 20,000 known fatalities.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said in an April 21 press conference that “While it is bad,” the pandemic’s progression through his state is “nowhere near as bad as a lot of people said it was going to be at the beginning.” Governor Baker also stressed in his press statement that whatever positive trends are being seen are being seen because of the aggressive social distancing measures Massachusetts has implemented—and which he says residents have been “pretty good” about following.

In Florida, Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez is working toward “a new normal” and held a public virtual town hall on April 18 to discuss plans to reopen Miami-Dade County’s parks and golf courses—which have been closed since March 19—with county personnel on hand to supervise and enforce safety measures. According to Gimenez, “Miami-Dade police, along with the local police department, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Florida Fish & Wildlife, also will be cracking down on anyone not following social distancing and other rules.”

In Nevada, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman was upbeat in a statement made on April 21 calling for businesses in her city—including casinos—to be allowed to reopen. Nevada ranks 22nd among the states and the District of Columbia in COVID-19 cases, with about 4,000 cases and 163 deaths documented thus far, and has been under a state-imposed lockdown of all nonessential businesses since mid-March. The mandatory shuttering of the city’s all-important tourism industry has pitted Goodman against Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, and has sharply divided residents—some of whom support the shutdown, while others feel it was an overreaction likely to trigger economic catastrophe every bit as dire as the public health consequences. 

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