ORLANDO, Fla. - As more data shows an earlier peak for COVID-19, the focus now turns to eventually reopening the economy.
Officials said this will need to be a slow, careful process. The models project the pandemic is peaking and will subside next month or early June, but that doesn’t mean the virus will be gone. It will still be in the environment and in order to slowly reopen the economy, the number of cases will need to stay on the decline as extra safety measures are put in place.
While many businesses remain shut down and struggling, many agree that timing is everything.
“I’d rather go an extra week or so and make sure things are calmed down and good to go, than open the doors too soon and have another surge come on,” Peter Miguel, owner of JAX Fifth Avenue said.
The fear of a second wave of new COVID-19 cases is something infectious disease experts said may happen this fall or winter.
“Until we get a vaccine, which is a while off, this is going to be our new normal and we need to adapt and protect ourselves,” said Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees.
UCF economist Sean Snaith said people should prepare for a slow reversal of closings and restrictions.
“What we’re likely to see is a bit of a stepwise process, where we begin to open up some segments of the economy before others,” Snaith said.
Local governments are beginning to discuss the plan for reopening.In Orange County, that could mean new mandates for screenings and taking temperatures at certain businesses.
“It could mean additional sanitary protocols for employees of certain types of businesses to require them to wear masks or other things,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said.
The president said all fifty governors will need to develop a reopening plan tailored to their state.
“I’m not putting any pressure on the governors – we’ll open it up in beautiful little pieces,” President Donald Trump said.
But the question on everyone’s mind – how soon?
“It’s a double edged sword,” Miguel said. “We wanna get the doors open, get my staff back in here and employ them, but on the other hand, I don’t want this to go on for another six weeks."
Economists said we could see the economy reopen as early as May, but will likely trickle into June and July by the time most of the economy is open for business again.
Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties all said they are working on similar plans to reopen.