Several US states to reopen this week despite concerns about lack of testing

Experts warn that premature resumption of normal life could risk a second wave of virus

Several states across America will begin reopening this week, despite widespread concerns about the lack of testing needed to identify cases of coronavirus.

US president Donald Trump announced earlier this month that it will fall to individual governors to decide when and how to reopen each state in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, though they are expected to follow guidelines issued by the federal government.

The gradual reopening of businesses across the country comes as the death toll in the US from coronavirus passed 53,000 – the highest in the world – with many experts warning that premature resumption of normal life could risk a second wave of the pandemic.

The southern state of Georgia became one of the first to reopen on Friday, with hairdressers, bowling alleys and gyms opening their doors. Restaurants and cinemas can open from Monday.


Tennessee is also allowing restaurants to offer a sit-in service from Monday, while Missouri's governor has said that virtually all businesses will be permitted to open by the end of the week.

In Texas, one of several states which has witnessed anti-lockdown protests in recent weeks, governor Greg Abbott is expected to announce details of how the state will reopen on Monday when the stay-at-home order expires on Thursday.

Over the weekend, thousands of people flocked to beaches in California and Florida which were reopened this month, defying instructions for social distancing.

But other states maintained strict lockdown orders. New York, which has reported nearly 17,000 deaths since the outbreak began, is continuing to impose widespread restrictions, though governor Andrew Cuomo said that some construction and manufacturing businesses in some parts of the state may be permitted to open from May 15th.

Some 367 deaths were reported in New York on Sunday over the previous 24 hour period – the lowest daily death toll since March 31st, suggesting that the peak of the virus may have passed.

Speaking on Sunday, treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin said he expects the US economy to "bounce back" from July, as the economy begins to reopen in May and June. The closure of wide swathes of US business and commercial life has had a devastating impact, with 26 million people losing their jobs since mid-March.

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx warned that social distancing measures "will be with us through the summer".

Meanwhile, Mr Trump indicated that he may no longer attend the coronavirus briefings that have been taking place in the White House each day since the crisis hit.

The US president was widely ridiculed for asking medical experts at a briefing last week if injecting humans with disinfectant could be used as a treatment for coronavirus.

‘Not worth the time’

On Friday, Mr Trump did not take questions at the daily press conference which finished after 20 minutes. Amid reports that the president has decided to scale back the briefings, he tweeted on Saturday that they were “not worth the time and effort”, accusing the media of asking “nothing but hostile questions”.

“What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately,” he wrote. “They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!”

Asked on Sunday about Mr Trump’s suggestion that household disinfectants and sunlight could be used as a treatment for Covid-19, Ms Birx noted that sunlight had been shown to help shorten the virus’ half-life on certain surfaces.

Maryland's governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, also criticised Mr Trump's comments, noting that his state had received hundreds of calls asking advice about ingesting cleaning products following the president's remarks.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent