When is it safe to reopen the economy? One relevant metric is R0, which tells us whether the spread of the virus is growing or shrinking. Anything above 1.0 means that each infected person is in turn infecting more than one person and the epidemic is still growing. Anything below 1.0 means that fewer people are being infected and the virus spread is starting to decline:

If this is true, we aren’t anywhere near to reopening. At the very least, we’d want to see a sustained R0 of 0.9 or less since reopening is bound to increase the infection rate. Here’s what the Rt Tracker says about this on a state-by-state basis:

I think it’s safe to say that you shouldn’t consider reopening until your 90 percent error bars are fully below 0.9 at a minimum and stay there for a week or two. There is not a single state that hits this standard. Hell, there are only ten states where the error bars are even below 1.0. In his testimony today, Anthony Fauci agreed:

Dr. Fauci cautioned that more cases were inevitable as states eased lockdowns. He said the benefits of current therapeutics were modest and warned that there was no guarantee an effective vaccine would be available in the near future. “If certain areas prematurely open up, my concern is we might see spikes that turn into outbreaks,” he said during the hearing. “The consequences could be serious. Even in states that reopen with a deliberate pace…there is no doubt that when you pull back on mitigation, you will see some cases reappear.

For the mild-mannered Fauci, this is about the equivalent of a lung-piercing scream: Don’t reopen yet! The epidemic will blow up again if you do.

But we’re reopening anyway. If we had competent leadership urging everyone to stay the course for at least another few weeks, things might be different. But we don’t and they aren’t. Anyone smart will continue to stay at home as much as possible regardless of what the crackpots in the White House say.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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