Listen to this article

Regardless of when, local and federal governments will require a plan to reopen the U.S. economy. Defining who will participate and where and how this reopening will first take place is critical to its success.

Here are some suggestions for formulating such a plan.

— Who: The first to return to normalcy should be elected federal officeholders and state governors. Many of these people have been sequestered in optimal conditions and tested for COVID-19 and routinely partake of the best the U.S. has to offer. They are the most fit and likely to continue to flourish.

Joining them, for the same reasons, should be the leaders of America’s economy, including President Donald Trump’s economic-revival team.

— Where: Whereas the HEPA-filtered air and sterilized surfaces often enjoyed by our “canaries” provide environments most conducive to avoiding infection and maintaining a sequestered life as close to usual as possible, a more realistic reopening should place the “who” in environs that reflect the living, meeting and working conditions experienced by most Americans.

These places should include: factories, banks, food stores and pharmacies, retirement communities and nursing homes, public housing, hospitals, prisons and police and fire stations.

— How: Reopening the U.S. economy will require thoughtful planning and deliberation. Such meetings and political discussions should take place in public venues. This may require participants to temporarily be housed and nourished there.

No worry, Jimmy John’s delivers. No need for limos or private jets; all participants can take public transportation to get there. No need to Zoom; there’s nothing like face-to-face meetings. Bring your own surgical masks.

In essence, the post-COVID reopening of the U.S. economy should commence by placing the political and corporate decision makers in the people’s environment and follow a plan devised to insure the best opportunities for the health and economic well-being of all Americans.

Without reality-based experiences that inform these decisions, we are likely to get the same old elitist plans that send the working class to war and death, bail out the wealthy on the backs of workers and maintain generations in cycles of poverty.

Stephen J. Kaufman of Urbana is a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois.