Every state will be partially reopen on Wednesday as Connecticut eases coronavirus restrictions even though at least 17 states are looking at an increase in COVID-19 cases, CNN reports.
Connecticut on Wednesday will allow, with restrictions, people to use outdoor dining spaces, offices, retail stores and malls, museums and zoos, CNN noted. And though the state never shut down some services such as parks and outdoor construction, Gov. Ned Lamont noted the state's economic impact from the shutdown.
"I'm afraid there could be a sea change," he said Tuesday on CNN's "New Day." "We'll see whether people feel comfortable going back to restaurants. Maybe there will be more takeout. The world will change."
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, 17 states have recorded an upward trend in new daily cases as of Tuesday.
Public health experts fear people venturing back out in public too early will cause a spike in COVID-19 cases, especially if they don't wear masks or practice social distancing.
And since it can take weeks to determine the impact of people returning to their normal routines, it could lead to thousands of new deaths down the road, those experts warn.
As the novel coronavirus bore down on the United States, the White House on March 13 issued national state of emergency guidelines and state after state ordered many businesses closed in a bid to curb the spread.
In April, the federal government provided a set of guidelines on when states should reopen — including declining numbers of COVID-19 cases over the course of 14 days; a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percentage of total tests; and a robust testing program for at-risk healthcare workers.
But, as with many aspects of handling the pandemic, the final say on how to reopen lies with state and local officials, who under the U.S. Constitution hold the authority to make laws related to residents' health and welfare.
Federal lawmakers, meanwhile, have not set any new standards for workplace safety, although they could.
"There has not been the slightest hint of interest on the part of Congress in creating a national uniform set of rules on business closures and re-openings," said Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas. None of the guidelines from the White House are legally binding, he noted.
The patchwork approach means that some states may do better than others at controlling infections, experts say.
"I hate to say it in these terms," said Raymond Scheppach, a professor of public policy at the University of Virginia, "but I think we're in a period of experimentation."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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