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President Trump and governors across the country are rolling out plans to reopen the U.S. economy, which has been largely shuttered for weeks to reduce the spread of the coronavirus — a move that could provide a glimmer of hope for Americans itching to get back to business as usual while cautioning that efforts to reopen will happen gradually and depend on reducing the spread of the virus first.
During the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing Thursday night, Trump unveiled a set of guidelines titled “Opening up America Again” as he declared that the U.S. was moving on to its next stage in the fight against the coronavirus and announced a bipartisan council of lawmakers dedicated to restarting the economy.
“We can begin the next front in our war, which we are calling ‘Opening Up America Again,'” Trump said during a press briefing at the White House. “To preserve the health of Americans, we must preserve the health of our economy.”
“We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” Trump said, adding that the guidelines were “based on hard verifiable data.”
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He added: “Some states will be able to open up sooner than others.”
The Trump administration’s guidelines outline what individuals, businesses, health care workers and more should do over three phases in reopening the economy, with states only making it to the first phase if they see a decrease in the number of cases within their borders over 14 days.
The guidelines, which pass the decision on when to move to each phase to governors and local officials, are a reversal for Trump on comments made earlier this week that indicated he wanted to be the one deciding when the stay-at-home orders and business closures would lift.
Trump, who has for weeks advocated for getting back to business as quickly as possible, said he wanted to reopen the economy by Easter before extending his national social distancing guidelines through the end of April.
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But Trump isn’t the only one moving to loosen the reins on business and travel. Governors from coast to coast are rolling out their plans to lift social distancing orders, but are also cautioning that it will not be done all at once and that timing will depend on the management of the coronavirus.
Earlier this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with governors from New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Delaware, announced they would coordinate the opening of their economies, but do so cautiously.
“We should start looking forward to ‘reopening’, but reopening with a plan and a smart plan because if you do it wrong, it can backfire,” Cuomo said in a news conference. “What the art form is going to be here is doing that smartly and doing that productively and doing that in a coordinated way — in coordination with other states in the area and doing it as a cooperative effort where we learn from each other where we share information, share resources, where we share intelligence.”
Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom led a coalition of West Coast states, which also included Washington and Oregon, in announcing that they would coordinate the reopening of their region. A joint statement by the governors emphasized that among their top priorities would be protecting vulnerable populations, keeping hospitals below capacity and robust testing.
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“Modifications to our states’ stay at home orders must be made based off our understanding of the total health impacts of COVID-19,” the statement read. “This effort will be guided by data. We need to see a decline in the rate of spread of the virus before large-scale reopening, and we will be working in coordination to identify the best metrics to guide this.”
And in the Midwest Thursday, Govs. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Mike DeWine of Ohio led a coalition of states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky in forming a partnership to get their economies back up and running, while still cautioning that reducing the spread of the coronavirus is the top priority.
“We look forward to working with experts and taking a fact-based, data-driven approach to reopening our economy in a way that protect[s] families from the spread of COVID-19,” a joint statement by the governors read.
It continued: “Our number one priority when analyzing when best to reopen our economy is the health and safety of our citizens.”
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Additionally, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to announce a plan for his state Friday, which he characterized earlier this week as not “a rush the gates, everybody is able to suddenly reopen all at once. We have to understand that we must reopen in a way in which we are able to stimulate the economy while at the very same time ensuring that we contain the spread of COVID-19.”
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wrote in an op-ed for the Albuquerque Journal that “[n]o one is more eager than I am to lift our stay-at-home orders and declare New Mexico open for business,” but said “as public health experts remind us, we are not anywhere close to that point.”
Though the timeline for when the reopening of the economy can begin in earnest is unclear, the fact Trump and the nation’s governors are actively planning to do so could give hope to many Americans who have been hurt by the shutdown, with many participating in protests against state stay-at-home orders this week.
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The Michigan Conservative Coalition this week organized a socially distant protest dubbed “Operation Gridlock” that created bumper-to-bumper traffic throughout downtown Lansing, as demonstrators blasted their horns, waved Americans flags and hoisted placards deriding Whitmer’s orders and demanding that she reopen the state’s economy.
That followed a similar demonstration in North Carolina in which more than 100 people gathered in response to a “#ReOpenNC” campaign on social media. At least one person was arrested, according to WTVD.
Crowds have also gathered in Ohio, Wyoming and New York. Spectrum News Albany reported Thursday that about 30 people had gathered in front of the New York state capitol building to demand the economy be reopened forthwith.
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Protests will continue Friday, with the Idaho Statesman reporting that activist groups in Idaho plan to gather in Boise to protest that state’s stay-at-home order.
But citizens worried about their wallets may have to keep waiting for state lockdowns to be lifted, as coronavirus cases continue to increase in the United States. There were 27,095 new cases in the U.S. on Wednesday morning as compared to Tuesday, and 29,979 on Thursday as compared to Wednesday.
Those ready to get back to business as usual have at least one government official squarely in their corner, however. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, according to Newsweek, tore into Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak over his state’s stay-at-home order on Wednesday.
“This shutdown has become one of total insanity, in my opinion,” Goodman said, according to Newsweek, “for there is no backup of data as to why we are shut down from the start, no plan in place how to move through the shutdown or how even to come out of it.”
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly, Bradford Betz, Nick Givas and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
Tyler Olson covers politics for FoxNews.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @TylerOlson1791.