How Has Reopening States Affected COVID-19?
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, states are balancing public health through stay-at-home orders and crowd limits with concern for jobs and the economy. Alabama was among the last states to issue a stay-at-home order on April 3rd and among the first to begin easing restrictions four weeks later. Since reopening, new coronavirus cases in Alabama have been trending upward, suggesting that premature state reopenings can have big public health consequences. Read the news summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. This video has been edited for length. To watch the full video and read the transcript, click here.
- There was a 330 percent increase in coronavirus cases in Alabama between April and May.
- 80 percent of deaths due to coronavirus in Alabama occurred in the month of May following its loosening of restrictions.
- Doctors warn that limited access to healthcare in rural Alabama could slow down diagnoses and increase the likelihood of spread.
- According to Mayor Steven Reed of Montgomery, Alabama, the majority of Montgomery’s city council opposes requiring mask-wearing in public.
Reopening Discussion Questions
- Essential question: When and how should states reopen their economies in order to protect public health?
- Alabama’s Governor Kay Ivey said “there are many viruses that we live with and [we] have worked necessary precautions into our daily lives.” She implies that individual choices and behaviors will make up for loosening governmental regulations. Do you agree with her? Why or why not?
- In your community, do you observe people exercising recommended precautions such as social distancing and wearing masks?
- As we learned in the video, the coronavirus exacerbates preexisting inequities. Black people, people with underlying health conditions and people who live in rural areas without access to health care face especially high health risks. What policies could a government use in order to fix these growing inequalities during the pandemic? Could governmental policies be enough?
- Media literacy: The segment opened up with the story of a restaurant in Alabama that is working extensively to comply with all possible health precautions. Do you think that all restaurants in Alabama have been similarly rigorous? Why was this restaurant selected for the story and how did it shape your perception of the safety of businesses in Alabama?
Reopening Extension Activities: Implications of Coronavirus for Americans With Disabilities
- Watch the edited version of NewsHour’s “Americans with disabilities need more support during pandemic, say advocates,” and answer the following questions.
- What policies should the government implement in order to protect Americans with disabilities during the pandemic?
- What’s the significance of having a “seat at the table” when it comes to political decisions?
- Key term: Americans with Disabilities Act (an act passed in 1990 that prohibits discrimination based on disability, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities and requires public places to fulfill accessibility guidelines.)
2. Plot Your Own Risk
- Read this article, “This chart can help you weigh coronavirus risks this summer”and look at the graph it provides. Think about the past 24 hours (where you’ve been, who you’ve interacted with, etc.) and try to place yourself on the coronavirus risk graph.
- Media literacy: What is this graph missing? How would you improve the graph to make it more helpful?
Read the original article.