The Heritage Foundation released its phase 5 reopening recommendations Tuesday, calling on the White House and state governments to curtail the expansions of government authority happening amid coronavirus.
The report is one of several the Heritage Foundation’s National Coronavirus Recovery Commission (NCRC) has released in recent months, and it includes 85 recommendations for how to prepare the U.S. government to better handle a pandemic crisis in the future, as well as repair damage from mistakes made in the response to COVID-19. Heritage has shared the recommendations with White House staff, who are “actively working” to implement them, NCRC Spokesman Rob Bluey told the Daily Caller.
“Public institutions at every level have played a critical role in responding to the novel coronavirus, but this does not mean that every government action was necessary or appropriate,” the commission wrote. “In every crisis, mistakes are made.” (RELATED: Obama Officials Said On TV That Trump Colluded With Russia — They Said Otherwise Under Oath)
Chief among those mistakes for Heritage is the draconian nature of the restrictions many states have resorted to during the pandemic. Movement restrictions and forced business closures have not only lost Americans jobs, the report says, but opened the door to unprecedented authority for local, state, and federal governments.
“For the first time in our nation’s history, these powers are being used to impose statewide shutdowns,” the report reads. “Legislatures should clearly define the emergency powers a governor may utilize to combat a pandemic, and any such declaration of emergency and restrictions should expire within a set amount of time absent an extension affirmatively granted by the legislature.”
The commission goes on to say state governments should act to better prepare hospitals to handle pandemics with increased training and medical supplies. The report also says the loss of nearly 1.5 million medical jobs in April is largely due to government policy. (RELATED: Will Trump Fully Eliminate Birthright Tourism? Heritage Foundation Policy Analyst Tells All)
“Because government required medical providers to postpone all elective procedures during the active phase of the pandemic, many patients missed out on needed services including cancer treatment,” the report says.
But medical practices and small businesses have not been the only groups to suffer devastating losses during the pandemic; state governments have also taken on massive debt to provide aid to workers. To address this in future crises, the report recommends state governments set aside a minimum of two months operating costs to have a financial backstop for future events.
Recommendations from Heritage have caught the attention of White House officials before with their calls for the administration to stop enforcing cumbersome small business regulations during the pandemic, according to Politico. President Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have also been critical of the extreme measures may governors have taken.
Barr’s Justice Department has already indicated it will support lawsuits against states who go too far with bans on church attendance or wait too long to begin the process of reopening.