Nate Jackson / April 21, 2020

Southern States Announce Plans to Reopen

Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina respond to administration guidelines with a plan.

Millions of Americans are beyond ready for COVID-19 to be a distant memory. As the Trump administration laid out last week, however, making that a reality will be a long road with numerous benchmarks and phases. Following Trump administration guidance, the Republican governors of Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina have released plans to begin reopening this week and next.

“Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said certain businesses, including gyms and hair salons, can reopen beginning this Friday,” reports Fox News. “Meanwhile, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee confirmed his state’s stay-at-home order, previously extended to April 30, will end that day. And, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said businesses previously deemed nonessential — department stores, flea markets, florists, bookstores and music shops — could reopen their doors.”

In Tennessee, the four large metropolitan areas operate under their own health departments, and all four Democrat mayors will delay reopening beyond Gov. Lee’s directive.

Just as many of these governors faced criticism for shutting down too slowly, now they’re receiving blowback for opening up too soon. Kemp’s vanquished gubernatorial rival, Stacey Abrams, slammed his decision as “dangerously incompetent.” Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin called Kemp the “front-runner for [the] country’s dumbest governor.”

As The Resurgent’s Steve Berman accurately notes, “The original reason for all our countermeasures was to keep COVID-19 from spiking to the point where our health care resources were completely overwhelmed and unable to deal with the caseload. We have done that. The case load has stabilized and new cases are declining, while testing activity is building up. Nationwide, we have plenty of hospital beds, and additional hospital space is now available.” He adds, “The reason for the lockdowns was not to completely eliminate deaths from COVID-19.”

In other words, many states are beginning to meet the appropriate benchmarks, and their governors are responding accordingly. Democrats and much of the media keep moving the goalposts, however, because they’re most interested in destroying the economy to win an election. The balancing act for every governor is weighing the tradeoffs of lockdown versus reopening, as well as what best protecting their citizens actually looks like. The problem with metrics and models is the fact that a gradual reopening is going to increase the number of infections and deaths. There is some portion of the population that simply won’t adhere to the most basic CDC guidelines, which is going to cause a surge. But states and citizens need to proceed the best we can.

Update 4/22: Georgia is under increasing pressure to delay reopening after Monday saw the highest number of deaths (85) in a single day since the crisis began. But Kemp said Monday, “The private sector is going to have to convince the public that it’s safe to come back to their businesses.” And as Erick Erickson explains, much of the seeming increase in cases is driven by results coming in from old tests.

Kemp himself added this explanation:

“I announced this on Monday so we can have time to educate the public and the business owners that this is just not handing them the keys back to go back to where we were,” Kemp said. “This is a measured approach with a lot of different requirements and guidance that we’re going to be putting out. And I’m very confident of that step. It was done in conjunction with public health officials based on the data that we’re seeing in our state and the gateways to the phase one part of the president’s plan.”

“I spent all weekend working with Dr. Toomey, who’s a … great epidemiologist, a great public health official, one of the best I think in the country. I did not make this decision without her support,” Kemp continued. “We poured over this data. We’re looking at all kind of different models. I’ve had hospital CEOs that I’ve been … in contact with that reached their peak way back on April the 6th. … They support a measured opening which is what we are doing. It’s going to be very limited in scope, basic operations. We’re talking about a few businesses that I closed down to help flatten the curve which we have done in our state.”

“But for us to continue to ask them to do that while they lose everything, quite honestly, there are a lot of civil repercussions of that, mental health issues,” Kemp added. “We’re seeing more patients in our trauma centers in our state because people are just you know, they’re tired of it.”

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