Andy Puzder: Trump coronavirus guidelines will get us back to normal and safeguard public health victories

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It’s time to start getting things back to normal after weeks of unprecedented national sacrifice to stop the coronavirus from spreading.

President Trump has wisely unveiled a comprehensive three-phase plan to gradually reopen the economy while safeguarding our hard-won public health victories.

Contrary to what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her ilk would have you believe, no one wants to rush this. But it’s important to acknowledge some need for urgency. A recent article from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Research Center described the situation accurately and succinctly: “the virus is lethal; but so is poverty.”

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In this respect, the president’s plan is great news for all Americans. In the early 1960s, famed economist Milton Freidman first recognized that the deeper the recession, the faster and stronger the recovery.

The current economic crisis is deep, but we should bounce back resoundingly once the crisis abates. This is particularly true since a pandemic caused this crisis, not any underlying problems with our economy.

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In addition, our president has a track record of success, having already guided our economy to historic heights with the best labor market in modern history prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

If we implement the pro-growth policies President Trump pursued in his first three years in office – including tax cuts and regulatory reductions – Americans can be confident that an unprecedented economic bounce back will follow this unprecedented shutdown.

But we need to get the economy going first – and now we have a plan.

The president’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again outline criteria devised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will allow individual states to judge the ideal pace for their economic reopening. This is a recognition both that we have a federal system of government and that one size does not fit all when it comes to addressing this crisis.

It wouldn’t be necessary or appropriate to enforce the same lockdown restrictions that are needed in states with high COVID-19 death rates – such as New York – in states with few COVID-19 deaths and little risk of rapid spread, such as Wyoming. Each state should address its individual circumstances within broad federal guidelines.

As long as states see a downward trajectory of COVID-19 symptoms and cases being reported over a 14-day period and maintain a robust testing program that includes antibody testing, the guidelines lay out an incremental process for loosening restrictions and returning to normal life.

Thanks to the lightning speed with which the president got the Food and Drug Administration to approve the first coronavirus antibody test in the U.S., local officials in areas with minimal cases will soon be able to move on to the first phase of their economic reopening.

While unveiling these guidelines, President Trump acknowledged the economic hardships the shutdown is creating, including mental health issues, addiction, depression and suicide. He reiterated his conviction that the cure for the coronavirus should not be more costly than the damage inflicted by the virus itself.

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For the president, ignoring the difficulties Americans are facing is simply “not a sustainable long-term solution.”

The American spirit is too strong to be chained down by a forced shutdown like this for long. People want to get back to work. Many need to get back to work to provide for their families. Americans want to live their lives and pursue their destinies without fear or uncertainty.

“We want every seat occupied” in an Alabama football stadium with 110,000 seats, President Trump said Thursday. “That’s our normal.”

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The president has now laid out a plan for getting back to “our normal.” Not a rushed effort or a one-size-fits-all solution, but a thoughtful and considered incremental plan that acknowledges the different situations and necessary timelines needed to get us there.

I, for one, look forward to getting back to normal.

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