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What can Columbus learn from Georgia’s reopening?

What can Columbus learn from Georgia’s reopening?

Wayne T. Lewis

As Columbus continues to awaken from its economic slumber, many residents have voiced concerns that the re-opening is happening too early and that we risk re-igniting the spread of the virus. Our own polling has captured this sentiment and you don’t have to scroll long on social media to read your neighbor’s opinion on the matter.

While businesses are busy creating safer spaces to shop and dine in, a substantial portion of their customers (many of you) will likely stay home and watch closely as others venture out into the world, masks on face and sanitizer in hand.

But the state of Georgia may offer actual insight into how our own reopening might go. Ohio mirrors many of the restrictions Georgia placed on its businesses as a prerequisite for reopening. These include social distancing within establishments, workers wearing gloves and masks, no self-service stations, to name a few. So far, the results are encouraging.

From Bloomberg:

Their Governor, Brian Kemp, lifted a state order on April 24, allowing salons, hairdressers, bowling alleys and gyms to reopen a long as they followed state regulations. Restaurants and theaters were given the go-ahead three days later.

The move was widely criticized, with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms saying she was “dumbfounded” and “extremely concerned.”

That message was echoed this week by Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease official, who warned before Congress that an early reopening of the economy could risk new outbreaks.

So far, this hasn’t happened in the Peach State. Kemp said this week that Georgia has seen the lowest use of ventilators and lowest hospitalizations of Covid-19 patients since it started tracking the numbers. Confirmed cases still may go up, he said, reflecting greater testing. More than 1,500 people have died, and the case total exceeds 35,000, according to the state department of public health.

“The Georgia data are encouraging,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities. “Like many states, a large proportion of Georgia’s cases have been in nursing homes. Georgia has done a great job of helping secure nursing homes recently, which may account for some of the overall improvement.”

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From The Telegraph (UK)

Georgia and other US states that were first to start reopening after coronavirus lockdowns have not seen an initial spike in cases, according to data now emerging. 

Trackers from The New York Times and the website Axios which take a seven-day rolling average show new cases have continued to drop despite the relaxation of rules. 

The statistics offer a glimmer of hope that lockdowns can be loosened without immediately triggering a new surge in the virus, though firm conclusions are hard to draw. 

Factors such as lags in identifying new cases, local counties not adopting statewide reopening moves and the continuing cautious behaviour of residents could play a part. 

While time will be the ultimate judge of whether Ohio’s opening was premature or not, consumers, employees and business owners are cautiously stepping on the gas, but with safety always in mind.

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