How Governors Decide to Reopen — Or Not

Signs to Follow as We “Open Up America Again” and How to Prepare Your Business.

While states like California, New York, and Michigan remain locked down and their governors say it’s far too early to reopen businesses, in Georgia, Florida, and Texas, the end of lockdown appears to be near. On Sunday, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, said we’d likely have to do some sort of social distancing through the summer—all around the country. 

The choices these governors are making are not simple. On the one hand, they can leave their states locked down for the foreseeable future while unemployment mounts and residents struggle to pay rent. Or they can reopen the economy and face the potential of accelerating the spread of COVID-19.

What’s reopening and what’s still closed

It’s not an easy choice to make, and since we’re still in the middle of the crisis, it’s hard to know who will be on the ‘right side of history.’ Each state (and city and county) is trying to decide what’s best for their community. In Mississippi, Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, and South Carolina, that meant reopening some businesses this week. 

Most public health officials have recommended that states wait to reopen until they can control transmission, have few new daily deaths, and are able to track confirmed cases. That’s why New York governor Andrew Cuomo says he won’t reopen the state until the hospitalization rate drops consistently for 14 days.


Watch for capacity, plans, and testing

Governors across the country are doing their best to make choices in coordination with the White House’s guide to reopening the United States. The guide gives hints for what to watch for to determine when your state will reopen. Here’s what to watch for:

  1. ‘Influenza-like-illnesses’ and probable COVID-19 cases should decrease over the course of a 14-day period. Same goes for confirmed COVID-19 cases. 
  2. Testing should increase. That would probably make the percentage of positive tests go down as more people are tested.
  3. Hospitals should be able to care for patients without stress or strain. No triage tents or conference centers used as hospitals. 
  4. Healthcare workers should get tested, and states should be on their way to antibody testing. 

When those four requirements are satisfied in your state, you’ll probably start hearing the governor talk about reopening. That will mean it’s just about time to get back to work.

IHME forecasts another method

For many states, it appears too challenging to meet all of these requirements in the immediate future. Some states just aren’t able to increase hospital space or staffing in the next few weeks or months. The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is helping the government figure out how states will be able to reopen anyway. Researchers there are trying to decide how many new infections states can handle under current conditions. Right now, they estimate that each state can handle one case per 1 million people. 

That’s why we’re hearing governors talk about reopening even in states where testing and hospital strain don’t seem to reflect the White House’s recommendations. The data changes every day, and so do the IHME’s predictions. That means this model can’t be taken as a crystal ball. Instead, it can be used to help us prepare for what might be to come. It can help business leaders predict how their operations might shift. 

By mid-May, the IHME forecasts eight states will be able to reopen. Hawaii, Montana, Alaska, West Virginia, Vermont, North Carolina, Maine, and Ohio will go first. 

The rest of May will see 22 other states able to reopen. It will be June or July before the remaining 20 states and the District of Columbia will be ready for reopening. 

The full IHME COVID-19 projection can be found here.

Productivity while waiting for reopening

It’s critical to keep your business operations as productive as possible while preparing for reopening at the same time. Common Areas has a solution to help. Our cloud-based, configurable software can streamline and simplify many of the common processes involved in your operations including work orders, checklists, inspections, capacity planning, asset tracking, preventative maintenance and much more. 

It’s challenging enough to operate your business when times are good, let alone track the new research, mounting procedures, and guidelines just to keep your team and customers safe. Common Areas is here to help you streamline those processes and improve your productivity.

Let’s chat about what we can do for you.


In response to the changing business landscape, Common Areas has released CDC and OSHA inspired checklists, deficiency tracking and reporting as well as remote working asset and safety tracking to its solution, to help businesses mitigate unforeseen operational liabilities, keep track of remote business assets, and simplify operations no matter what the business climate may bring. Learn more here.