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Every U.S. state has now taken formal steps to reopen businesses and get residents back to work as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic continues.
Governors and local leaders are looking for signs that the virus is receding enough in their area to allow for a partial return to normalcy. The need for public safety continues to clash with an economy that's desperate to be switched on.
Left-rated media outlets generally focused more on reasons that suggest reopenings should be slowed, and on statistics that illustrate the persistence of the virus in some areas. Right-rated outlets generally concentrated more on the potential health- and economic-related consequences of extended lockdowns.
Other big news this week: The president said he's taking hydroxychloroquine to fend off the virus; The FBI linked terror group al-Qaida to the December 2019 shooting at Pensacola Naval Air Station that left three sailors dead; a declassified email from former NSA adviser Susan Rice dded another layer to the Michael Flynn controversy; and biotech company Moderna reported positive data from the first phase of its vaccine trial.
On the Blog: NBC's fake news on Attorney General William Barr was an abject journalistic failure — but their subsequent apology was exactly what audiences deserved.
More from AllSides: In the face of the COVID-19 infodemic, AllSides created a Facts and Fact Checking portal, where you can see the latest fact checks on a variety of topics and issues. You can also now support our work and mission by becoming a sustaining member of AllSides. Sustaining memberships allow you to read AllSides ad-free.
Snippets from the Right
"Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday that he supports reopening the country and that he believes states are “ready” to return to more normal operations, albeit with some key changes, including social distancing and contact tracing. Speaking to The Hill, Redfield said that states are making significant strides in bringing down the number of coronavirus cases, and the drop, from March and April when cases peaked, is noticeable — and something to celebrate. “I want to clarify that the community-based transmission, the community-to-community transmission that overwhelmed the public health departments in late February, March, April, that’s really coming down,” Redfield said."
"Redfield stressed that even as coronavirus infections wane, health care officials should be on the offensive, prepared for a possible second wave either or or in addition to an upcoming flu season. He also implored state health departments to improve their guidelines for handling further coronavirus outbreaks, including isolated outbreaks in nursing homes and other residential care facilities."
Washington Times (opinion)
"There are serious health consequences of keeping the American economy shut down, whether its suicide rates spiking, cardiac procedures not being received, cancer screenings declining, or children going without their routine vaccinations. Not to mention the widening economic disparity between the rich and the poor, which has its own health implications as well."
"Scientists, doctors and political figures are calling the shots for the working class, yet they have less at stake — most are still getting paid and have the privilege of working from home. Yet, many average Americans simply do not and must continue to put food on their table and support their families amid the backdrop of this pandemic. Americans understand there’s risk involved in reopening — all they’re asking for is the choice to take that risk safely and responsibly. Instead of judgment from the ruling class, there should be sympathy and respect for these workers, who have everything at stake, from their personal health to their economic livelihoods."
National Review (analysis)
"Three Republican senators raised an alarm in late March: Congress’s multi-trillion-dollar coronavirus bill would boost unemployment benefits by $600 a week — such a large amount that many people would make more if they were laid off than they would if they continued working. Sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation, and this was the solution that presented itself. But these benefits expire at the end of July, Congress has to decide what comes next, and the bill the Democratic House passed would extend these payments until next January. That is a terrible idea, and the Republican-led Senate needs to figure out something better."
"As a new paper from three economists at the University of Chicago demonstrates, the $600 boost fails to help workers in an equitable fashion and creates terrible incentives. It would be a poor fit for our coming circumstances, in which states are reopening and the economy should gradually improve. If, in this next phase, we want to keep the unemployment system a bit more generous than it usually is, we will have to either make the boost smaller or force states to implement a formula that actually makes sense. The list of problems the paper uncovers is staggering. The $600 benefit makes unemployment insurance more remunerative than work for two-thirds of eligible workers. The median worker can get 134 percent of what he earned before."
Snippets from the Center
"Members of the Senate Banking Committee squabbled Tuesday over how quickly the U.S. economy can rebound from the coronavirus shutdown and whether the federal government is doing enough to support struggling families and businesses in the meantime.Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell defended the government's multi-trillion-dollar relief efforts to date. Powell stressed additional measures may be necessary to prevent lasting economic damage. The challenges of reopening parts of the economy were underscored by the hearing's format. It was held virtually, with both witnesses and senators on videoconference, though Mnuchin said he would have been willing to testify in person."
""What Congress has done to date has been remarkably timely and forceful," the Fed chairman said. "I do think we need to take a step back and ask, over time, is it enough? And we need to be prepared to act further." In addition to the Fed's lending programs, the government has made hundreds of billions of dollars worth of loans to small businesses, which can be forgiven so long as most of the money is used for payroll. Mnuchin said he's eager to work with lawmakers to give borrowers in that program more flexibility."
"The 60-page document, dated only as May and posted on the website without a formal announcement, comes after some states announced they would lift stay-at-home orders and begin reopening parts of their economies. The CDC has remained largely quiet on the pandemic. Agency officials haven’t held a coronavirus-related briefing in more than two months. The plan outlines a “three-phased approach” for reducing social distancing and proposes the use of six “gating” indicators to assess when to move through another phase. The gating indicators include decreases in newly reported Covid-19 cases and emergency room visits as well as a “robust” testing program."
"The guidance recommended that schools currently closed should remain so in the first phase. Child-care programs should also remain closed in areas with a high number of cases unless the programs serve children of essential workers such as health-care workers. Once state and local governments enter the next phase, schools and child-care programs can open with “enhanced” social distancing measures."
"Data from cellphone location firms Unacast and SafeGraph through last weekend both showed a continued slow rise in visits to retail stores. Data on around 55,000 small businesses from time management firm Homebase showed a few more firms open and more workers on the job. The latest numbers are in line with both the gradual lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions across the country, and what many analysts expect to be a measured response among households and entrepreneurs until it is clear the virus is controlled."
"Consumer and industrial activity measures from Goldman Sachs were unchanged. A New York Fed index tracking growth in gross domestic fell slightly. An Atlanta Fed rolling estimate of current-quarter gross domestic product remained at what’s hoped to be its bottom, showing an annualized drop of more than 40%. Any good news remained narrowly focused. Unacast data showed foot traffic among home improvement stores recently crept above 2019 levels, and pet stores were attracting more visitors."
Snippets from the Left
"The United States has crossed an uneasy threshold with all 50 states beginning to reopen in some way, two months after the coronavirus thrust the country into lockdown. But there are vast variations in how states are deciding to open up, with some forging far ahead of others. The increasing moves to lift restrictions on businesses — or at least open up outdoor spaces like beaches and state parks — reflect the immense political and societal pressures weighing on the nation’s governors, even as epidemiologists remain cautious and warn of a second wave of cases."
"The White House has said that states should have a “downward trajectory” of cases over a 14-day period before reopening, but many states reopened well short of meeting those benchmarks. Some epidemiologists see warning signs of a rebound, especially in the South, and because it can take as long as three weeks for a newly infected person to become sick enough to go to the hospital, the impact of reopening is unlikely to be detectable immediately."
Harvard Business Review (analysis)
"This is a matter of both life and death, and prosperity or poverty, as a deep recession is likely to cause widespread hardship, including increased mortality rates for reasons other than the virus. We must, therefore, find smart strategies for reopening businesses while minimizing health risks."
"We believe the best option is a gradual release by sector — in several waves, within countries — with the objective of avoiding a congestion of hospitals and especially intensive care units. Our analysis suggests that this is actually possible...Industries such as accommodation and food services, construction, healthcare, transportation, and warehousing could be the targets of a first wave of lockdown release because they are less suitable for virtual work. Some organizations in these sectors have already been deemed essential and continued operations through the pandemic."
"As things currently stand, with the U.S. initiating a shut down in mid-March, more than 93,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus (though that number is likely higher) from more than 1.5 million confirmed cases. According to the new model’s tally, if that shut down had been started a week earlier, the virus’s spread would have been sufficiently curtailed to cut the number of deaths by roughly 36,000 people—more than half of the fatalities recorded through May 3, the timeframe the study examined."
"These numbers will surely be debated, discussed, and dismissed by some, but as we collectively reemerge from isolation, they must help inform our collective decision-making in the months and even years to come. The first time around, in early March, America’s leaders floundered in different ways in the face of the coming pandemic. “Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on,” Trump tweeted on March 9, minimizing the potential impact of the virus. “At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!” A week later, on March 16, the president was telling Americans to stay home to save lives."