White House Reopening Guidelines Leave Room for Interpretation

States considering lifting quarantine measures will look to the federal criteria as laid out in the Trump administration's recent guidelines. But these criteria have been criticized by some for being vague, creating the opportunity for any governor to argue the numbers are favorable enough to start reopening.

The official guidelines propose either a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases within a two-week period or a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests. 

As shown below, when you compare yesterday’s case count with that of two weeks ago, the number is often lower, simply because they fluctuate so much day to day. On this basis, most states could be reopened. Without specifics, "downward trajectory" is largely subjective. 

The guidelines don’t take into account low testing rates related to total population, with many states currently falling short of what's needed, according to researchers. Ultimately, because the directions aren't binding, some states are choosing to reopen whether they meet the criteria or not.

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