Bookmark This! PA and NJ have plans to reopen non-essential businesses. And a Friday FB live!


Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

About a week ago, I blogged here about the White House’s three-step plan to reopen America. Slowly, the states are following suit by unveiling their own phased programs.

Locally, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania updated its “Process to Reopen Pennsylvania” over the weekend. And, yesterday, New Jersey unveiled its “road back” plan.

I’ve got a lot to unpack for you, don’t I?

The Process to Reopen Pennsylvania.

Last week, Governor Tom Wolf announced that the Commonwealth would employ a three-step process to determine when counties or regions are ready to begin easing some restrictions on work, congregate settings, and social interactions.

The first phase is the red phase, followed by the yellow phase, ending with the green phase.

Get it?

Red Phase

The red phase has the sole purpose of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing, non-life sustaining business, school closures, and building safety protocols. Business is limited to essential (life-sustaining) operations only.

The red phase is where we are currently.

Yellow Phase

During the yellow phase, some workplace restrictions will ease. But, several places that are currently closed (schools, gyms, and other indoor recreation centers), will remain that way.

Social distancing (6 feet) will also remain the norm (no meetings larger than 25 people), which also means telework must continue where feasible. Stay-at-home orders will be lifted. But, businesses with in-person operations must follow business and building safety orders. Plus, people must avoid all non-essential travel. All companies must continue to follow CDC and DOH guidance, while the state monitors public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary. In addition, individuals should engage in frequent hand washing and sanitizing, and surfaces should be disinfected as often as possible.

Further, companies must make employees and customers aware of Commonwealth guidance. Think: laminated posters in the break room, like a “COVID-19 Safety Procedures for Businesses” flyer, and information on the intranet. There is also a requirement to name a “Pandemic Safety Officer” who would be in charge of carrying out the COVID-19 safety procedures set forth in this guidance.

(Yes, I’m looking at you, HR).

Green Phase

This phase will facilitate a return to a “new normal.” All aggressive mitigation restrictions will be lifted. But, all businesses must continue to follow CDC and DOH guidance, with the Commonwealth closely monitoring.

How long will all of this take?

The Commonwealth has set a target goal for reopening at having fewer than 50 new confirmed cases per 100,000 population reported to the department in the previous 14 days. So, for example, an area with a population of 800,000 people would need to have fewer than 400 new confirmed cases reported in the past 14 days to meet the target.

New Jersey’s “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health”

There isn’t much meat on the bones of this plan, given that NJ just announced it yesterday. And since it’s 11:30 PM as I type this, and I’m going to bed soon, I’m just going to cut and paste the plan below. (If you’d prefer a colorful one-page summary, click here instead).

Principle 1: Demonstrate Sustained Reductions in New COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations

  • 14-day trend lines showing appreciable and sustained drop in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and other metrics reflecting decreasing burden of disease;
  • Hospitals stepping down from functioning under crisis standards of care.

Principle 2: Expand Testing Capacity

  • At least double current diagnostic testing capacity;
  • Prioritize testing for health care workers, essential personnel, and vulnerable populations;
  • Create a flexible testing plan accessible to all residents;
  • Expand partnerships with institutions of higher education, private-sector labs, and the federal government;
  • Ensure that those who test positive are linked to a health care provider.

Principle 3: Implement Robust Contact Tracing

  • Recruit and deploy an army of personnel who will identify and follow-up with contacts;
  • Leverage technological data and innovative solutions to increase efficiency;
  • Coordinate the approach of local and state health officials, which will have a coordinated county/regional component.

Principle 4: Secure Safe Places and Resources for Isolation and Quarantine

  • To the greatest extent possible, provide individuals who do test positive in the future with a safe and free place to isolate and protect others from COVID-19;
  • Ensure that quarantined contacts are provided supportive services, if needed.

Principle 5: Execute a Responsible Economic Restart

  • Create the Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission to advise on the process and recommend responsible and equitable decisions;
  • Plan for a methodical and strategic return to work based on level of disease transmission risk and essential classification;
  • Continuation of social distancing measures, requirements for face coverings, and work-from-home directions where feasible and appropriate;
  • Leverage any available federal funds and programs to support health care, individual, and small business recoveries.

Principle 6: Ensure New Jersey’s Resiliency

  • Learn from the lessons of COVID-19 and prepare for the possibility of a resurgence;
  • Ensure hospitals, health care systems, and other health delivery facilities have inventories of personal protective equipment and ventilators;
  • Build our own state personal protective equipment and ventilator stockpile;
  • Create a playbook for future administrations for the next pandemic.

Sorry, folks. There isn’t much here yet to help your business plan to reopen. I assume that’s coming soon.

But, you know what might help?

A Facebook Live on Friday at 2 PM EDT/11 AM PDT

I’ll post more details about this tomorrow. I may even drop a hint about a special guest.

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
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