When COVID-19 began spreading in the U.S. in early spring, governors in hard-hit states took drastic steps to reduce the threat and avoid overloading their health care systems. By shutting down nonessential businesses and schools and ordering people to stay home, they slowed the virus’s spread, but several million people lost jobs.
Since then, we’ve witnessed a series of ad hoc experiments with more targeted approaches. As states started to reopen, they tested different levels of restrictions, such as face mask mandates and capacity constraints on restaurants. Some closed bars when cases rose again but left other businesses open. Others set restrictions that would be triggered only for hot spots when a county’s positive case numbers passed a certain threshold.
Now, as cooler weather moves more people indoors and daily