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States might have to close again if they reopen too soon, experts say


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – More states are lifting or revising stay-at-home restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, and by this weekend, at least 43 states will have eased their guidelines.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced some retailers like bookstores and florists will be allowed to reopen Friday as long as the businesses follow White House guidelines.

However, data scientist Youyang Gu tells CNN this may push the US backwards and erase the progress made during the pandemic.

“You don’t want to rush the reopening because by the time you realize what’s happened, it’ll be too late to reverse the decision,” Gu told CNN.

Referring to the Japanese island of Hokkaido, Gu said the island had to shut down three weeks after reopening due to an increase in cases.

White House guidelines for reopening America include the suggestion that states not reopen until they see a “downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period.” Some, however, have not adhered to the advice.

“It will be at least two to three weeks before we see an increase in the number of infections because it takes time for individuals to infect others and for them to display symptoms,” Gu said.

“After displaying symptoms, it will still take a few days for the symptoms to worsen enough for the person to get tested. The test results can take a few days to get reported. At each stage, there’s a lag time,” Gu added.

That means that reports of new deaths wouldn’t come until weeks after reopening, according to Gu, who began making forecasts with the data back in March on his website

The average time it takes for a COVID-19 patient to die from the illness is “around three weeks” according to Gu, who cited studies from Italy and China.

“But it’s a wide range. It can vary from a week or two [to] many weeks, if you’re on a ventilator,” Gu said.

Infectious disease expert and Emory University professor Dr. Carlos del Rio told CNN the scenario would put neighboring states at risk, again.

“It’s like having a peeing section in a swimming pool,” he said. “All the time, we’re crossing state lines.”

At last check, there were more than 1.2 million coronavirus cases in the US, with more than 71,400 deaths.

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