Doctor weighs-in on phased approach to reopen RI economy

With plans now officially in place to finally reopen the economy in Rhode Island, one of Care New England’s top doctors believes that the state should not rush anything.

In Monday’s briefing, Gov. Raimondo announced a phased approach in reopening the economy that included slowly opening up businesses, and easing up on social distancing guidelines gradually.

According to Dr. Raymond Powrie, Executive Chief of Medicine with Care New England, the plan should only be seen as a middle ground, and reopening the economy is also beneficial for public health.

He said that the public has been doing a good job in slowing the spread of the virus but we still have quite a road ahead of us.

“If we begin to open our economy again we need to also make sure that people do so carefully with social distancing still in the workplace, with hand hygiene, with the use of masks,” Powrie said. “Every step we take has potential risks and benefits.”

Mass General recently released a model showing that if the economy opens up too fast in Massachusetts there could potentially be thousands of more deaths in the state.

Dr. Powrie said if Rhode Island’s economy opens up too fast, we could be facing a similar fate.

“If we do it too fast or do it without being cautious in how we implement it then I think we could see numbers that are concerning,” he said.

However, Dr. Powrie said keeping the economy closed could also have a negative impact on public health.

“Impulse to get America back working is a good one that actually is important to people’s health,” he said. “Joblessness, bad socioeconomic situations, those do impact people’s health in the short term and the long run.”

As for the governor’s plan to slowly reopen the economy, Dr. Powrie said it’s a good place to start.

“Middle path is always a good one when trying to make changes. So I like the idea that we’re not being extremely conservative, nor are we lurching forward too suddenly,” he said. “I wouldn’t do it too fast or go too far too quickly. But I do think we need to find out what exactly that sweet spot is.”

The big question on everyone’s mind is when will this whole thing pass and things can finally get back to normal?

Dr. Powrie believes a lot of it has to do with the discovery of a vaccine.

He expects another 18 to 24 months will pass before a vaccine is discovered.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Politics, Regional News, Rhode Island