There might be a few careless covidiots on the street but neither is the general public ready nor is America prepared for the consequences of Trump reopening the economy too soon – A potential quadrupling of cases.
While health authorities are raising doubts over America’s readiness to reopen for business, President Trump can’t wait to prove all of them wrong. The POTUS is harping on the economic cost of the shutdown, but he forgets his own health experts projecting the devastating consequences of reopening America too soon.
A couple of weeks ago, in one of Trump’s daily Coronavirus task force press briefings, America was told there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths even after social distancing norms applied. The death toll right now stands at 40,000 with another 15,000 critically ill.
Conservatively speaking, the lockdown needs to continue for at least till June to stop the spread of coronavirus before healing from the impact starts again.
Is the US really ready to open its economy?
To decide if the US is ready to restart its economic activity, we must see if it fulfills certain conditions. A Business Insider article has explained that the first step would be a thorough evaluation of the country’s health system and its ability to deal if the second wave of the outbreak of COVID-19 cases happens after reopening.
Trump Administration is yet to prove if testing capacities are strong enough to segregate potential carriers. The government also needs to ensure that the rate of people getting infected from the virus – the dread curve – keeps flattening out. These three conditions should be sacrosanct for economic activity to resume.
What happens if Trump has his way?
Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute and former chief economist at the US Department of Labor, tells The Guardian that at a time of the pandemic, the best public health policy is the best economic policy.
The decision to reopen should be taken by epidemiologists and doctors and not politicians or economists.
Now, what happens if the economy is opened before the nation has recovered from the scourge of pandemic? The number of deaths due to COVID-19 might increase towards the projected 240,000. That doesn’t just prevent people from going to work but ultimately means a longer period of devastation regressing economic activity beyond recovery.
What the public has to say?
The average American citizen is today scared. For most, it’s first about life and then salary. A CNN polling found 60% of Americans are not comfortable resuming their regular routines if social distancing norms are lifted after 30th April.
Hence, it is important for people to feel safe before they step out of their homes. A recent CNN report explained how a false start in the economy could be devastating for consumer confidence. The consumers will not spend unless they feel safe. Restaurants and hotels will have to wait longer.
Trump’s three-phase plan – One careful step at a time
President Donald Trump announced federal guidelines to reopen the US as soon as May 1 by putting the responsibility on governors to make decisions about their states’ economies. He said, “We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time.”
An NBC report says that in phase 1 of the three-phase plan, restaurants, movie theatres, gyms, places of worship and large sporting venues would be allowed to reopen provided they meet certain conditions. However, places like schools, daycare centers, and bars would not be allowed to operate.
Phase 2 will apply to states and regions where there has been no case of rebound and satisfy the gating criteria set by the guidelines. In this phase, schools, daycare, and bars will also be allowed to operate if they follow the guidelines.
The Third phase of Trump’s reopening plan, only for those states where there is no evidence of a rebound will allow its vulnerable individuals to resume public interaction, but also follow the guidelines.
Millions of Americans might share Trump’s viewpoint that the shutdown needs to end sooner rather than later. But without a vaccine for the pandemic, experts believe that any hurried attempt to relieve from economic trauma would be farsighted with grave consequences of reopening America too soon.