National Coronavirus Recovery Commission Releases First Set of Recommendations to Reopen America

National Coronavirus Recovery Commission Releases First Set of Recommendations to Reopen America

Apr 20, 2020 3 min read

WASHINGTON — The National Coronavirus Recovery Commission held its second meeting today, releasing 47 specific recommendations to reopen America. The recommendations are organized by the sectors of government and society in the best legal and practical position to execute the recommendations.

Reopening America and combating the novel coronavirus requires an “all of society” approach. For example, the commission’s bold recommendations call on governors to use local data to begin opening individual economies as expeditiously as possible.

The National Coronavirus Recovery Commission developed the recommendations with input from 17 top experts and thinkers from government, public health, disaster response and relief, academia and education, business, and the faith community.

The recommendations cover the first two phases of the commission’s previously announced five-phase approach to recovery. Phase 1 is a plan to “return to a more normal level of business activity at the regional level based on scientific data.” Phase 2 lays out the steps to “slow the spread of the coronavirus while expanding testing, reporting, and contact tracing.”

The full list of recommendations can be found on the commission’s website. A summary of each section is below. 

State Governments 

The commission recommends that state governments prioritize gathering data that enables federally informed, regionally based decisions to help Americans safely return to work and life as normal. States should also consider growth-oriented regulatory reforms that will jumpstart the economy and provide relief for families. The mechanics of reopening individual economies should be led by governors and proceed as expeditiously as possible according to data gathered by testing and contact tracing and deployed on the county or zip code level.

Local Governments

The commission recommends that local governments lead the way in deploying state guidance and actions plans. Local officials should also take steps to protect vulnerable populations, limit the spread of the virus, empower the health care system to respond effectively, and leverage unique relationships with community leaders, businesses, non-profits, and the faith community for local needs.

Federal Government

The commission recommends that the federal government serve in a critical role of supplying reliable information and guidance, reducing barriers to recovery, and providing a back-stop of resources where states need more supply. While there is no single national solution to the recovery process, the role of the federal government ought to be to support and complement governors in bringing their communities back to life. The federal government should assist state and local leaders in expeditiously reopening businesses and schools except in communities where an outbreak is occurring or believed to be imminent.

Executive Branch

The commission recommends that the executive branch reduce regulatory barriers, acquire knowledge about the virus, develop and approve private sector products and equipment to defeat the virus, and give businesses the flexibility they need to return back to work. The executive branch must engage with and support every level of government in getting lives back to normal.


The commission recommends that Congress focus on containing the coronavirus through targeted and temporary economic relief for taxpayers, families, and businesses of all sizes, avoiding bailouts and unrelated stimulus spending, keeping workers attached to employers, providing funding flexibility for education, and protecting civil liberties.   

Private Sector and Civil Society

The commission recommends that the private sector and civil society play a critical role in getting people back to work, put lives back on track, communicate public health priorities especially to younger populations, and work vigilantly and creatively to prevent another outbreak. While the government certainly has a role to play as cities and regions reopen, private institutions are invaluable and will be crucial for America to emerge from this pandemic as a stronger country. 

National Coronavirus Recovery Commission Chairman Kay C. James, president of The Heritage Foundation, said the disease and the economic damage ravaging America are twin foes, and we must defeat them both.   

“These initial recommendations for recovery provide governments at every level and the American people with a framework to slow the spread of the virus and to prudently begin getting back to work and to some sense of normal,” James said. “The commission is moving quickly to make sure our five-phase plan will save both lives and livelihoods. I look forward to bringing these ideas to President Trump’s Great American Economic Revival effort and to the American people.”

Following the first set of recommendations, James said the commission will be actively reviewing new developments and guidance from public health officials as well as decisions made by national leaders and governors.

The commission’s next meeting will take place May 5. The commission will provide continual updates and further recommendations for policymakers and the American people.   

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

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