As we enter the month of May, several states are reopening their economies after lockdowns inspired by COVID-19. At a press briefing on April 23, Vice President Mike Pence said 16 states had “formal reopening plans.” A New York Times tracker shows that nine other states are partially reopening their economies, and 22 states remain in lockdown.
In the past six weeks, 30.3 million workers, or 18.6% of the U.S. workforce, filed for unemployment benefits. They’ve been laid-off or furloughed due to state restrictions implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19. From what we know, the spread of the virus does seem to be slowing in many regions. In that respect, social distancing efforts paid off. On the other hand, the economic effects are devastating.
In mid-April, the White House released a three-phase plan for “Opening Up America Again.” While states do not have to follow the plan, those that do are encouraged to proceed cautiously, meeting certain medical criteria before entering the next phase of reopening. Eager to get their citizens back to work, many governors embraced the plan or made their own versions.
Still, big questions remain unanswered. Will reopening too quickly cause a rebound in COVID-19 cases? Even President Donald Trump acknowledged this is a possibility. Will businesses be able to get back on their feet soon enough? This will be hard at first, especially since some restrictions, like reduced capacity, are still in effect in many places. Will employees and customers feel safe enough to ease back into their normal routines? There is no doubt America needs to get back to work, but it’s also important to protect the health and safety of our neighbors.
Please join me in praying for our nation, particularly those states moving forward with reopening their economies. Pray for leaders to have wisdom, discernment, and informed counsel as they make decisions that will affect the lives and livelihoods of their citizens. Pray for the safety of business owners and employees as they get back to work, and provision for Americans who are in need.