Is It Too Soon? Saving the Economy v. Saving Lives

May 21, 2020
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As of mid-March, most Americans have been cooped up at home under their local governments stay-at-home order. For some, working at home has been a joy… who does not love living in their pajamas? With the stay-at-home order also came furloughed unemployment and a new level of stressors. Between protests and daily conversation, it is obvious that people are restless and eager to resume normal life.

Over half of the country is in the works of a partial reopening. This is great news for the economy, but what does it mean for the spread of Covid-19: the initial cause of the lockdown order. Other countries around the world have attempted partial reopening’s, all having different outcomes. So, America reopening is going to be a trial by fire.

Let’s take a look at the states that have already begun reopening, and how they are doing in terms of Covid-19 cases. A few weeks ago, the state of Georgia made headlines when the state decided to reopen. Allowing shops, barber shops, and gyms to reopen. Notably, the states cases did not plateau before the reopen began April 24th. In fact, between April 18th and the 24th they increased. The issue with Georgia is that the number of reported cases is not small by any means, with 550 to 1,000 reported cases daily.

It makes more sense for states such as Alaska and Maine to reopen because they have seen a decline and plateau in cases reporting significantly less cases daily. So why are states such as Georgia and Colorado reopening with little to no slowing the spread of the virus? The goal is to restore the state’s economic stability as soon as possible.

The pandemic has caused record numbers of unemployment, threatening the state of our economy, businesses, and entire industries. According to The Skimm: “Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sounded the alarm louder by calling on Congress to provide more aid for the economy”. This may not seem like THAT big of a deal, however, the fed chair rarely reaches out to Congress to give input on law making. For those trying to measure the severity, there’s your scale.  

The unfortunate truth is that the economy will not be fully restored as quickly as it shut down. The tricky thing about the United States economy is that there is a lot of webbing between industries. With only certain industries expected to reopen and others remaining closed, the supply chain may be limited or nonexistent.

Ben Casselman wrote an article for the New York Times regarding the economic halt and restoration. Casselman wrote: “How can one factory reopen when its suppliers remain shuttered? How can parents return to work when schools are still closed?” (Casselman, 2020). The coming months will be a waiting game on how these supply chains will flow with partial reopening, and how this will affect the spread of Covid-19.

The issue is finding balance. How do we save our economy and save lives at the same time? The current solution is to open the country (varying by state) in stages. Slowly re-introducing restaurants, nail salons, and other “non-essential” business’. Some are reluctant to re-enter the world due to the fact that Covid-19 has not disappeared and we are still in the midst of a pandemic. Anthony Fauci, who has been a trusted resource within this pandemic has spoken out about the dangers that come with opening the country too soon. Countries like Lebanon and Japan have experienced a second wave of Covid-19 outbreaks, both occurring after attempting to reopen the economy. This is what Fauci is warning against. Reopening too soon could mean a second wave in cases, calling for a longer lockdown and more damage to our economy.

 With no definitive answer, no one can really be sure what the right thing to do is. We all miss our loved ones, going out to restaurants, taking the dog to the dog park, etc. It is up to everyone to work together and take the safety precautions that are advised. Our world is looking much different than it did a few months ago and everyone is eager to bring back some normalcy to their lives. However, Covid-19 is not going to disappear overnight. Finding acceptance in this new normal is essential for this slow healing process and yes it may be challanging, but it can be done.

Sources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/state-coronavirus-cases-show-too-soon-to-reopen-2020-5#new-case-growth-continued-during-the-three-week-stay-at-home-order-in-georgia-and-has-declined-marginally-in-the-two-weeks-since-3

https://sundial.csun.edu/156806/arts-entertainment/true-crime-podcasts-worth-binging/

https://www.theskimm.com/archive/2020-05-14

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/25/business/economy/coronavirus-economy-reopening.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/12/coronavirus-update-us/