As the U.S emerges from coronavirus lockdowns and governors ease restrictions on social gatherings and business activities, several states are seeing an upward trend in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Federal health officials warned states that reopening before meeting key benchmarks set by the Trump administration would cause a resurgence in cases.
White House guidelines for safely lifting quarantine measures and reopening a state's economy propose a downward trajectory of either COVID-19 cases or positive tests as a percent of total tests, over a two-week period.
But these vague criteria have been criticized for not defining "downward trajectory" and for failing to specify a threshold for case numbers or positive rates. If a state has a high infection peak and the rate of the decline over 14 days is long and slow, it may not yet be safe to relax restrictions. However, any governor can argue their state has met the criteria and reopen despite not seeing a steady drop in cases and deaths. The guidelines also don’t take into account low testing rates related to total population.
Ultimately, because the directives aren't binding, some states began to reopen whether they met the criteria or not.