National Coronavirus Recovery Commission Announces Five-Phase Plan for Reopening America

National Coronavirus Recovery Commission Announces Five-Phase Plan for Reopening America

Apr 9, 2020 3 min read

WASHINGTON—The National Coronavirus Recovery Commission held its first meeting Thursday, bringing together 17 experts whose mission is “save lives and livelihoods.” At the conclusion of Thursday’s meeting, the commission announced a five-phase plan for when and how to begin to get Americans’ lives “back to normal” again.

Commission Chairman Kay C. James, president of The Heritage Foundation, said we must prioritize getting people back to work, but only as soon as it’s safe enough to do so.

Americans want to ensure their families are kept safe and healthy,” James said. “The commission agrees that it is critically important to build the American people’s confidence that we can safely return to some semblance of normal soon. The way to build that confidence is to adopt a phased approach that mitigates the spread of the coronavirus, vastly improves testing, expands our capabilities to quickly find treatments and possibly a cure, and ensures we are better prepared to confront future pandemics.

The five-phase plan agreed to by the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission recommends:

  1. Return to a more normal level of business activity at the regional level based on scientific data. This would be done only after stabilizing the health care system, establishing enhanced testing, reporting, and contact tracing, and continuing to follow CDC guidelines on mitigation. At the same time, additional policies should be pursued to help workers, businesses, and medical professionals mitigate the economic consequences of the epidemic.


  1. Slow the spread of the coronavirus while expanding testing, reporting, and contact tracing. Follow CDC guidance on social distancing and other mitigation efforts until new cases begin to decline for at least 14 days. Increase diagnostic testing for COVID-19 and immunity. Also, resources should be made available to regional public health departments to undertake and expand testing, reporting, and contact tracing of those possibly in contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases.


  1. Continue to build the science. Increase the availability and rapidity of new diagnostic tests, while supporting the acceleration and introduction of proven therapeutics and vaccines.


  1. Establish U.S. leadership in leading the free world in economic recovery. Implement risk-informed measures to reestablish international travel while limiting the threat of reinfection. Partner with key strategic allies, including Western Europe and the Indo-Pacific, empowering economic freedom and partnerships in free markets among free people.


  1. Reduce future risks of pandemics. Invest in national and state stockpiles, reform supply chains, develop strategies to adjust resource capacity to meet the demands of crises, develop the supply of antiviral agents, seek to develop vaccines for coronaviruses, as well as invest in an international biosurveillance network to detect and contain emerging infectious diseases through coordination and cooperation.

The Heritage Foundation announced the creation of the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission this week to provide the American people and policymakers with recommendations on the steps needed to move prudently toward recovery. The commission includes top experts and thinkers from government, public health, disaster response and relief, academia and education, business, and the faith community. The list of commissioners is available at

“The commission is dedicated to examining this extraordinary public health crisis and finding solutions that will guide our nation’s leaders and governors when making decisions about reopening America,” said commission spokesman Rob Bluey. “The announcement of the commission’s phased plan for reopening is just the beginning of its approach to getting the American people back to work. In the coming days and weeks, the commission will hear from other experts and consider ideas that the American people are already sending us.”

Americans are encouraged to share their recommendations with the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission by submitting comments at

Following today’s first meeting, James said the commission will be actively reviewing new developments and guidance from the CDC as well as decisions made by national leaders and governors.

“Good public health policy is good economic policy, and vice versa,” James said. “If the economy fails, there will be severe, long-term health consequences; and if the health care system fails, there will be severe, long-term economic consequences. A nation decimated by the disease cannot have a functioning economy, and a catastrophic loss of jobs wreaks horrific damage on both mental and physical health.”

The commission’s next meeting will take place April 20. The commission will provide continual updates on the crisis response and recovery and publish its recommendations on its website.

For media inquiries or to schedule an interview, contact Gloria Taylor at [email protected].

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