Georgia's Reopening A 'Great Success': "In Theory, No One Is Going Too Fast," Experts Claim

Well, would you look at that.

Three weeks have passed since Georgia started reopening its economy, and the feared apocalyptic resurgence in the coronavirus that was supposed to overwhelm the state's health-care system and cost thousands of lives hasn't come to pass. And many of the same experts who warned against reopening the state "prematurely" - a group that includes Dr. Tony Fauci - are now conspicuously silent.

Meanwhile, other experts have pointed out that Georgia's reopening, along with the reopenings of others states like Tennessee, South Carolina and Texas, has so far worked out.

And if Georgia's reopening has been a success so far, then in theory, "no state is going too fast."

Some Wall Street economists say a continued decline in serious illnesses suggests Georgia’s reopening may encourage other states to ease restrictions and lead to an eventual resumption in economic activity in the US.

"Georgia is a bellwether mainly because the reopening has been so aggressive,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities LLC, who cited in a research note Wednesday an almost 20% drop in Georgia’s Covid-19 patients in the past week or so.

"The other aggressive states, like Florida and Texas, are still opening up more slowly," Stanley said in an interview. "So if Georgia is successful then, in theory, no one is going too fast - there should be a strong presumption that reopenings everywhere else should be successful."

Kemp lifted a state order on April 24, allowing nail salons, hairdressers, bowling alleys and gyms to reopen so long as they followed state protocols. Restaurants and theaters were given the go-ahead three days later.

The same goes for other states, because, although the NYT has repeatedly pointed out that, when backing out the data from the Greater NY area, the curve still appears to be gradually steepening, and even though Texas reported a "record" daily jump in deaths on Thursday (data reported with a 24 hour delay), in reality, the number of cases and states remains relatively low per capita, and there are still counties across the midwest, south and mountain west haven't reported a single case or death. Some have attributed a recent bump in some of the less-impacted areas to an improvement in the availability of testing.

To be sure, as BBG explains, it's too early to declare "Mission Accomplished". Georgia has suffered a lot, but even as hospitalizations and the spread slow, a new “hot spot” of cases has emerged north of Atlanta, and the risk of spread remains moderate.

But one thing is clear: A few weeks ago, the mayor of Atlanta, and several other Democratic mayors of the state's largest cities, slammed Kemp and implied that he was putting lives at risk for the sake of the president's reelection campaign.

At the time, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she was “dumbfounded” and “extremely concerned" by the decision.

But here's the thing: Just as Kemp expected, most businesses didn't reopen right away. Indeed, three weeks in, some small businesses and even some chains have yet to reopen (most Apple stores in the US remain closed, for example, though five stores have reopened, one of which is in South Carolina).

It was this drawn-out reopening, combined with the strict observance of social distancing recommendations, that likely helped keep rates of spread relatively low - certainly much less than expected.

Even as Dr. Fauci implores the Senate not to pressure states to reopen "prematurely", others claim that Georgia's reopening has gone far better than experts expected. Keep in mind: Three weeks ago, when Kemp decided to push ahead with the reopening, Dr. Fauci sniffed that "it certainly wasn't going to be helpful". He has since refrained on commenting on specific states.

But it's just another example of what President Trump said earlier was the good doctor's tendency to "play both sides". The strategy: make sure to vacillate and avoid making conclusive statements and warnings. By positioning himself as "the voice of prudence", Dr. Fauci is poised to take credit should the "expedited" reopening that Trump is supposedly "demanding" (in truth, the governors are independently pushing ahead on their own) pan out.

But if everything goes awry and deaths skyrocket, President Trump will be left to shoulder the blame alone.