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States Begin to Announce COVID-19 Recovery Plans

States are exploring a variety of COVID-19 recovery plans to meet their local economic and health care needs.

While some states opt to follow guidance from the Trump administration and national groups, others are taking individualized approaches.

National Guidance for States

The Trump administration released guidelines on reopening America amid the COVID-19 pandemic that include a three-phase approach designed to boost state economies while protecting public health and wellbeing. Several states — including Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, and Nebraska — have announced plans that rely on the administration’s guidelines.

In addition, the National Governors Association released its Roadmap to Recovery: A Public Health Guide for Governors, which explains how to build public health infrastructure and how to create and execute a detailed plan for reopening. The road map outlines 10 key steps and considerations to best support the economy and governors’ constituents.

Individualized State Recovery Plans

Meanwhile, at least nine states — Alabama, AlaskaColorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — have created their own actionable recovery plans. Many include phases similar to the White House–recommended approach, but which differ in terms of prescribed measures, overall detail, and focus areas. Many states also focus on increased testing capacity and social distancing guidelines.

Phased-in Approaches

Almost all states with detailed recovery plans included a phased-in approach to reopening. While these phases look different across the states, many start with a first tier addressing immediate emergency needs and subsequent tiers that focus on stabilization and reopening from a data-driven, standardized approach.

Some states, such as Pennsylvania and Alaska, use a phased-in approach that addresses several sectors in the state, including constituents, businesses, and health care providers. In contrast, Kansas‘ recovery plan uses health metrics, rather than phases, the state must achieve to reopen.

Focus on Testing

Imbedded in many state plans is the need for increased testing capacity. Wisconsin plans to increase testing for those with symptoms, although it plans to conduct surveillance on influenza-like illness to track the spread of disease on the population level. Colorado, on the other hand, hopes to increase test capacity overall, but offers no guidelines to do so. Pennsylvania mentioned a need for adequate diagnostic testing, but does not offer clarity on what qualifies as adequate.

Alaska‘s plan specifies testing available widely, with cases trending downward for 14 days before the state will begin reopening. Even more specifically, Alabama‘s plan defines 750,000 tests available per week as sufficient to begin reopening.

Most states that mention plans for testing also have plans to follow up with positive results using contact tracing.

Focus on Social Distancing

Most state plans also include the continuation of social distancing during the reopening and recovery process. However, states differ in how they approach social distancing during recovery.

Connecticut suggests social distancing will continue until there is a vaccine, and Pennsylvania recommends constituents should continue to remain six feet away from others. In Wisconsin, phase three of the recovery plan eliminates social distancing requirements.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the outbreak.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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