At Archie Moore’s Bar and Restaurant in Milford, Connecticut, it was a beautiful Wednesday, and the terrace was full.
Tables in the restaurant 6 feet apart. There is a disposable paper menu. Arrows tells the customer which way to go. Everyone needs a mask – and if you don’t have it, the restaurant will give you one.
This is a new rule, imposed by Connecticut officials when the state joins others throughout the US in starting a gradual reopening.
People are still not allowed to eat inside, but this first small freedom makes some locals happy.
A man told CNN that he felt this was long overdue.
“I understand caution and everyone wants to be safe but sometimes some things are taken to the extreme,” he told CNN, Brynn Gingras. “And they just have to understand the people who are trapped inside, they can’t take it anymore. They have to go back.”
Now, when countries begin to cancel restrictions imposed during home stay orders, the question remains: When do people feel safe to leave, and what are the risks?
With only a few countries showing a significant increase in infection rates, some experts warn it can be too fast.
By Wednesday afternoon, at least 18 states had registered an upward trend in the average daily case – a rise of at least 10% – over the previous seven days, according to an analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
Only 17 state daily cases fell by more than 10%, while the rest were level or close to the level, data showed.
“The only thing controlling this highly contagious virus is that each of us keeps that physical distance,” said former Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, Tuesday. “If we will let people go to work and reopen, we will introduce a kind of risk. The key is what steps can we take to reduce risk as much as possible?”
Different strokes for different countries
Countries have moved at different speeds because the governor balances reopening their economy by keeping the population safe. Several states, including Georgia and Texas, launched aggressive reopening plans, while others have taken a more scalable approach.
The governors of Alaska and Iowa said their states were ready to reopen most businesses on Friday.
In Alaska, that means all businesses, houses of worship, libraries, museums and sports activities can continue at 8 am, said Governor Mike Dunleavy’s office. Alaska has the fewest cases among 50 states, has reported only one digit of new cases since mid-April and did not boast new cases on Monday.
Alaskan people are still encouraged to take precautions, such as distance and wear masks in a crowd, and visits will remain limited in prisons and senior centers, the governor’s office said.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds intends to allow cinemas, zoos, aquariums, museums and wedding venues to reopen on Friday, he said. The swimming pool will be allowed to open laps and lessons too. The bar can be reopened on May 28, and school-sponsored activities, such as sports, can continue on June 1, he said.
Iowa counted 212 new cases on Tuesday, marking the third consecutive day of positive decline in Covid-19, according to state data. Total cases have declined over the week, data shows.
Indiana, too, plans to move forward by opening up its big economic plot on Friday, but with a number of restrictions, including: limiting social gatherings to 100 people, limiting dining rooms to 50% capacity and saving up to 75% capacity, and eliminating contact games, like soccer and lacrosse, from the list of sports that are allowed to continue.
“We still tell you to be too careful in surrounding yourself in an environment that can put you at risk,” Governor Eric Holcomb said.
New York, California, and Pennsylvania are among the states that allow local residents to report a decrease in new cases to reopen because other areas remain closed.
Many cities also remain under orders to stay at home. In Baltimore, gatherings of more than 10 people were still banned Retail stores remain closed.
In New York City, officials reported several positive indicators, although the number of people hospitalized with suspected Covid-19 cases increased slightly on Monday, from 57 a day to 63.
“This is a good day. We want to have great days,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said, also sharing positive news that the city has enough personal protective equipment to last until May and will start working to build a surplus PPE and ventilator .
Last month, the White House issued guidelines to help countries plan reopening, but the steps were not mandatory and the governor was left to make his own decisions.
Experts have warned that lifting restrictions before their time could mean thousands more Americans will die in the second surge in the case.
The onus is on individuals to adhere to guidelines, practice safe social distance and adopt habits to look after themselves and loved ones.
The WHO said new case reports reached a record
Nearly two-thirds of the record number of new case reports in the last 24 hours came from only four countries, including the United States, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
Tedros Adhanom-Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, said there were 106,000 cases reported in 24 hours, the most in one day since the pandemic began last year.
“We still have a long way to go to deal with this pandemic,” Tedros said.
Brazil, India, Russia and the United States have two-thirds of new cases reported, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove wrote in an email to CNN.
Because there were delays in reporting, that number did not mean 106,000 people were infected, tested, or counted in the last 24 hours, but the results were compiled by WHO at that time.
Gisela Crespo from CNN, Maggie Fox, Jennifer Henderson, Sara Turnbull, Jamiel Lynch, Rebekah Riess, and Gregory Lemos contributed to this report.