Trump Pushing to Open Economy Soon

"Will some people be affected badly? Yes."

President Donald J. Trump displays his signature on a proclamation making the month of May Older Americans Month, during the America's Seniors event Thursday, April 30, 2020, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Governors around the country are starting to lift stay-at-home orders in order to re-open the economy. The President is cheering them on while acknowledging that more Americans will die as a result.

Bloomberg (“Trump Pivots to ‘Phase Two,’ Risking More Death to Save Economy“)

President Donald Trump fixed his course on reopening the nation for business, acknowledging that the move would cause more illness and death from the pandemic but insisting it’s a cost he’s willing to pay to get the economy back on track.

Trump shifted his rhetoric on Tuesday, removing cautionary caveats about when and whether states should reopen and instead presenting the imminent easing of stay-at-home rules as a fait accompli.

As governors across the South and Midwest have begun returning people to work, Trump said he’s pivoting to “phase two” of the nation’s response to the pandemic, a step that will include disbanding the White House coronavirus task force, a group of public health experts that has been advising the administration on how to confront the outbreak.

The president has for more than a month clamored for a return to normal, stuck between the devastating human cost of the pandemic and the calamity that has befallen the economy as social-distancing measures pushed more than 30 million people into unemployment in a matter of weeks.

Tuesday marked the first time he clearly and unreservedly laid out his own cost-benefit analysis of the situation.

“Will some people be affected? Yes. Will some people be affected badly? Yes,” Trump said. “But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.”

On his visit to a Phoenix Honeywell International Inc. factory producing medical masks, Trump encouraged Americans to think of themselves as “warriors” as they consider leaving their homes, a tacit acknowledgment of deep public reservations about reopening the country too soon.

The U.S. continues to endure the largest coronavirus outbreak in the world, with about 1.2 million people infected and more than 70,000 killed so far.

Speaking separately in an ABC News interview broadcast on Tuesday evening, Trump said closing down the nation was “the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make.”

And while as recently as April 22, he criticized Georgia Governor Brian Kemp for reopening salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors and gyms, on Tuesday he was resolute about getting people back to work.

“There’ll be more death,” he said. “The virus will pass, with or without a vaccine. And I think we’re doing very well on the vaccines but, with or without a vaccine, it’s going to pass, and we’re going to be back to normal.”

“But it’s been a rough process. There is no question about it,” Trump said. “I think our economy is going to be raging” next year, he added.

The map of this is rather stark:

While I’m still in lockdown, as are those in the surrounding states, huge swaths of the country are wide open.

Let’s pretend for the sake of discussion that we had a normal President who made rational calculations after weighing evidence from experts and who had basic human empathy. He would certainly refrain from talking in this manner. And, one imagines, he would be using the bully pulpit to persuade governors and citizens to approach this more judiciously, slowly opening the economy in sectors and areas of the country where it made the most sense rather than simply based on the mood of the governor.

We would likely avoid, for example, the bizarre spectacle of Bristol, where the Virginia side of town is still on lockdown and the Tennessee side is wide open. Aside from the vagaries of federalism, there’s no rational basis for that kind of thing: either both sides of town should be open or both should be closed.

Still, as Sean Trende wrote over the weekend, the rationale for the lockdown has steadily shifted and the current version is unsustainable for the long haul.

When we began our foray into quarantine seven weeks ago, there was a unifying and eminently sensible rationale behind it: “Bend the curve.” The idea was this: If allowed to go unchecked, COVID-19 would overwhelm hospitals, leaving patients without beds. Short on ventilators, patients would be left to suffocate. In short, by slowing the spread of the virus we would prolong the amount of time it spread through the country, but would reduce the total number of deaths. Moreover, we would buy time for the nation’s testing apparatus to ramp up, to produce more ventilators, and to expand hospital capacity.

While we’re still not testing at adequate levels, we’ve otherwise achieved those objectives. Trende lays out quite a bit of data in that regard before observing,

No states are on anything resembling an exponential growth trajectory, almost all states are past a peak, and most states are substantially so. This would suggest that in many states, the question really should be how to reopen while keeping hospitals from being overwhelmed again.

But, for good reason in my view, the goalposts have moved.

But in the meantime, there seems to have been a subtle shift in the discourse. Some of this has been a refusal to update prior assumptions – some people seem to believe not much has changed since early March – but other analysts have subtly moved from “bend the curve” to what we might call “crush the curve.” Under the latter approach, rather than looking to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, which raises the fatality rate, we should look to avoid all fatalities. If you look at Obama’s timeline, you can see this play out in real time: On March 4 he urged people to wash their hands and stay home when sick. On March 12, he defended canceling large gatherings. Three days later he suggested everyone stay home to the fullest extent possible. This was all consistent with the growing conventional wisdom that we needed to close down in order to flatten the curve as the viral spread became more acute in the United States; on March 18 he seemed to endorse the “hammer and dance” strategy, warning of potential multiple rounds of social distancing.

But by April 8, he acknowledged that the curve had been bent, but also seemed to suggest that relaxing current policies demanded additional measures to ensure there wouldn’t be another breakout. A few weeks later, he retweeted an article that suggested we would need as many as 35 million tests per day before people could return to work.

We see this shift expressed in public policy away from reopening as well. In California, for example, the governor closed the beaches everywhere last weekend as warm weather brought thousands of people flocking to the ocean. . This is despite the fact that the evidence that hot, sandy beaches are good places to transmit the virus is not that great and, more importantly, that California appears to have peaked quite some time ago. This isn’t to argue that everything in California is going swimmingly, but it is striking that restrictions in the state are moving in the opposite direction of facts on the ground there, especially given the standard of a month ago. It might make more sense to retain restrictions in a place like New York City, but Mayor de Blasio’s move to arrest people gathering in large groups seems discordant when cases in New York are receding. Note too the shift in rhetoric: “This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.”

Those are worthy goals, indeed. Trende shares them, as do I. But he’s right that this wasn’t the going-in position.

But the shift has probably been the most pronounced among pundits. Perhaps the strongest statement of the “crush the curve” point of view comes from an article published in The Atlantic, with the (frankly unhinged) headline “Georgia’s Experiment in Human Sacrifice,” with the subtitle “The state is about to find out how many people need to lose their lives to shore up the economy.” Infections in Georgia appear to be trending downward, and it is beginning to reopen its economy, including gyms and hair salons. The upshot of the title and the article (which avoids the hyperbolic language from the headline) is that people will die as a result of the decision to open early.

It seems likely that this is the case, but the idea behind bending the curve wasn’t that we would bend the curve until there were no more cases. Indeed, it was expressed that we might end up with a similar number of cases, but that by spreading them out we would lower the number of fatalities. This, then, is something different: The idea that we should use the shutdowns to eradicate the virus as best we can, and that weighing lives against the economy reflects a choice tantamount to sacrificing some portion of the population.

Reasonable minds can disagree over whether Georgia has it right (although Colorado, which is reopening amid expanding caseloads, has avoided similar criticism), but this absolutist stance is nonsense. We engage in cost-benefit tradeoffs all the time. As I’ve noted before, we engage in a similar cost-benefit exercise every year with the seasonal flu. The stakes appear higher here, which weighs heavily on the benefit side of shutting down compared to seasonal flu. The flu also has a vaccine that allows people to protect themselves against some strains, but as parents quickly learn, the efficacy of that vaccine varies wildly from year to year. But, regardless, we ought not pretend that we don’t weigh a substantial number of lives against the economy every year, and occasionally make decisions that will undoubtedly “sacrifice”

While Trende doesn’t say it, the reason for this is obvious: when the status quo was “open for business,” governors were under pressure to issue lockdown orders to bend the curve. But, now that the lockdowns are the status quo, governors are under different pressure. On the one hand, lots of people want their life and livelihood back and are clamoring for a re-opening. On the other, almost by definition, more people will get sick and die as a result. And, quite understandably, they don’t want to be blamed for that.

I don’t have a firm view on when, whether, and where to open back up. I don’t have enough information to make even a semi-informed guess and am frankly not sure the experts really know enough, either.

But I agree with Trende’s larger point: that we make these sorts of cost-benefit analyses all the time. To avoid the rabbit holes of comparisons with the flu, driving, or other dangerous but more common practices, let’s just stick with COVID-19. We’ve decided that it’s too risky to allow bars and movie theaters—recreational activities where social distancing is next to impossible—to stay open but have declared grocery stores, home improvement stores, delivery services, and a whole host of other commercial activities to be “essential.” We’re quite literally accepting a much higher degree of risk for those in “essential” industries and their households. And, indeed, workers in those sectors—and, of course, the medical professions—are dying at much higher rates.

Trende closes with the politics of the thing:

This seems to reflect a wider phenomenon of people being driven into “teams” regarding the shutdown. We’ve become polarized on the issue, and indeed this polarization is beginning to reflect our underlying politics. This is an unwelcome development. One of the dynamics about team sports is an inability to see the other side’s point of view; indeed, that is in many ways the point of teams. As this virus develops, flexibility will be crucial in determining how well we come out of it, and a willingness to listen to the viewpoints of those we don’t generally agree with is probably the most important trait we can have. But, as with so many other things, that seems to be one more fatality resulting from this virus.

While there are a myriad of explanations for this, including both different information sources and very different lived experiences (the virus is hitting major metropolitan areas very much harder than it is rural areas, at least thus far) one imagines it would be a lot less severe with a normal President. Then again, maybe not. The lockdowns might be generating even more resentment if they were perceived as coming at the behest of Hillary Clinton.

It’s also worth noting that those of us in the pundit class are bearing a much smaller share of the sacrifice. Most of us can continue our work from the comfort of reasonably nice homes, secure in our paychecks and health coverage, while waiting for Amazon drivers to bring us whatever we need.

Again, I don’t claim to have a solution here. The infection and death rate in the DC metropolitan area, where I live, are too high to reopen. The governor shut down the schools for the year back in March and extended stay-home orders through June 10 weeks ago.

Clearly, we need to be able to adequately test people for infections as a bare minimum for getting back to anything like “normal.” But I don’t think it’s reasonable to wait until we have a cure for the disease, either. It’s quite possible we’ll never have one.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jon says:

    People seem to think that ‘bending the curve’ was the end goal rather than a means to an end. The goal was partially, as mentioned, to prevent hospitals and health care more generally from becoming overwhelmed. But it was also to buy us time to come up with a comprehensive testing system such that we can safely begin to run our society. That second part has not been met in any meaningful way and it is profoundly disingenuous, and indeed is moving the goalposts, to claim that, testing aside, we’ve otherwise achieved those objectives. That’s tantamount to saying “other than not achieving half the goal, we’ve met the goal”.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The experts all say pretty much the same thing, only varying in the numbers: Testing testing testing at a level we are nowhere close to. Track and trace.

    Without those 2 we are asking for an explosion and we are going to get it, Maybe one big one or more likely dozens of smaller ones. Misery’s testing is nowhere near what it needs to be and in fact the numbers have appeared pretty flat. That’s the # of tests done, the rate of positives and the rate of fatalities (a lot of noise in the #s too, due to inconsistent reporting I suspect) I intend to graph them using a 5 day rolling avg so I can get a more accurate picture, but damn that’s a lot of work. My laziness may well put all my good intentions to bed.

    I went out for the first time yesterday since our “lockdown” ended and 80% of the people are walking around like everything is just like it used to be. Went to Subway to get a sandwich for the wife and the employees are working without masks. Turned around and walked out. It’s gonna get ugly out here for little no economic gain. You can’t just flip a switch and turn it back on again.

    This piece from Nathaniel Lash at the NYT, Don’t Be Fooled by America’s Flattening Curve, has a rather telling graph. It shows the number of new cases reported per day dropping… Until you remove NYC, Detroit, and NOLA. All of a sudden the new cases in the rest of the USA are on an upwards trajectory.

    WASF.

    On the good side my wife’s company still won’t let her return to work. She is now on IMTE time and gets 3/4 pay. Hard to believe she works for an American corporation.

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  3. Moosebreath says:

    “President Donald Trump fixed his course on reopening the nation for business, acknowledging that the move would cause more illness and death from the pandemic but insisting it’s a cost he’s willing to pay to get the economy back on track.”

    Sort of like Lord Farquaad’s line from Shrek — Some of you may die, but that is a price I am willing to pay.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This is good info, also from the NYT: What Is the Real Coronavirus Toll in Each State?.

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  5. inhumans99 says:

    Several weeks back President Trump should have said he was working with his cabinet and Governors across the U.S. to come up with a standardized set of rules that need to be followed to ease us into the new normal. Instead, he threw a tantrum that Governor’s were annoyed that he was not helping them obtain PPE and it was their responsibility to obtain PPE not the Governments. So, several Governors talk to each other and agree to things like not bidding against one another and just work out a way to fly in more PPE to help each other out.

    Then we get stories that the planes filled with PPE land on the ground and the Fed Gov (i.e., President Trumps people) is there to declare that the PPE is actually their property not that of the folks who ordered the PPE in the first place and any equipment states need will be doled out by Jared Kusner (or whomever)….so Governors strike out on their own and do the hard work of obtaining PPE, President Trump swoops in to commandeer their equipment and then claims he has the equipment states need but only for the ones that kiss his butt…no wonder even GOP Governors are not happy with how things shook out.

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  6. CSK says:

    @Moosebreath:
    I’m sure that as long as he and Ivanka aren’t jeopardized, Trump is fine with anyone else dying.

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  7. KM says:

    They straight up trying to get the public to accept preventable mass death of their fellow citizens as some sort of tribute to the Wall Street Gods. They’re going into overdrive with pushing narratives about masks being a liberal plan to strip you of your rights, freedom means being able to to spread disease at will and that social distancing somehow doesn’t work despite being basic common sense. We’re seeing comparisons of people reporting mask / social distancing violations with Nazi collaborators or Soviet reporters; people flagrantly endangering others = good thing but asking others to obey necessary legal edicts and directives = fascism. Armed resistance to the hapless teenage cashier trying to enforce a mask order in a store means you might have to cap somebody’s ass to preserve your freedoms, boyos!

    They’re *very* aware that unless they can get their base to accept the massacre coming for them, it’s gonna end badly for them. You need the sacrifices to not put up a fuss or realize they need to fight back against those offering them up for slaughter. Instead, you direct their anger towards those who want to stop the loss of life as “ruining the economy” and the perennial favorite “taking your jobs”. The sad part is it’s not going to work out the way they want; the economy is going to still suffer simply because people won’t go back to the way things were until they feel comfortable. Losing so many people in a short amount of time leaves a mark on the workforce – we’ll lose expertise, specialists, knowledgeable individuals and trained workers everywhere.

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  8. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: Why do you think he cares about Ivanka?

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  9. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:
    I was basing the assumption on the fact that he’s made his lust for her clear ever since she was barely pubescent.

    Trump once told interviewer Wendy Williams (in Ivanka’s presence) that he wished he could say that he and she had sex in common. That does not, to my ear, sound like a healthy father-daughter relationship.

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  10. Teve says:

    @CSK: Every few days that exchange pops into my head and I have to wonder why everybody didn’t just start screaming at him and it ends with security throwing him out of the building.

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  11. Kathy says:

    The attitude seems to be that lock downs meant to flatten the curve and keep the healthcare system from being overwhelmed, had the undesirable side effect of keeping people healthy and alive. It’s time to fix that.

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  12. JKB says:

    What we’ve needed are local, state and federal agencies tasked to collect data on the transmission of the infectious agent, especially super spreader events (SSE), analyze the data, identify patterns and develop refined guidance for the citizens on how to adapt to the risk of the virus. Not only to ensure the adaptations are effective, but that they are the minimum infringements on constitutional rights necessary to achieve the legitimate goal of the government. Every day the government doesn’t work toward refining their “orders” from the broad (panic) guidelines those guidelines become more unconstitutional.

    Sadly, this has not been in evidence with our current public health “authorities” who are enamored with technological inventions and fetishize the long-shot vaccine talisman over old fashioned data analysis. Perhaps there are researchers at the CDC who are developing this information, but 8 weeks in, we can only assume they are holding their findings until they are able to present them at a pandemic conference in the future?

    Fortunately, there are people who will use the data available to do the job career government employees won’t do. Just as there are those out their making up for the career bureaucratic failure to restock the mask and ventilator stockpiles at state and federal levels. One such is a Canadian editor of Quillette who collected news and other reports on 54 early SSE around the world. A quite apparent pattern jumps out from 70% of those events. They were social, work, and religious group events with lots of embraces, group spittle events, such as singing and yelling and most important of all ***Prolonged, close-range, face-to-face Conversations with symptomatic individuals****. On the other hand, the evidence for transmission from touching surfaces (outside healthcare and sick households) is not established. And neither is transmission from momentary close passing of a random passer-by.

    So while the cops are arresting mothers who let their children play in a park, NYPD is beating up people on the street who veer to close, people are not warned that most important of all is to not engage in prolonged, close-range, face-to-face conversations, singing, yelling, other spittle ejecting activities, especially indoors. And if you must, that is where you need distance, masks, hand hygiene (afterwards). This implicated bars, classrooms, student social interaction, most of the “college” and urban experiences, business and social meetings and sporting events.

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  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    We don’t have testing established. We have no tracking. There is no demonstrated treatment. There is no vaccine.

    Have we done an assessment of treatments in the pipeline? Nope. Do we have a date for a vaccine?Nope. Are we sure there will be one? Nope. Are we sure that having Covid once insures immunity against a second infection? Nope.

    So why now, exactly? Because Trump needs to be re-elected.

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  14. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    Everyone was probably too aghast to react. This is a man who gave Howard Stern his blessing to refer to Ivanka as “a piece of ass.” Again, is this normal behavior?

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  15. Kingdaddy says:

    @Kathy:

    The attitude seems to be that lock downs meant to flatten the curve and keep the healthcare system from being overwhelmed, had the undesirable side effect of keeping people healthy and alive. It’s time to fix that.

    Apropos of this comment, check out this recent post at Lawyers, Guns, and Money:

    https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2020/05/the-american-way-of-death-2

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  16. wr says:

    @JKB: “Sadly, this has not been in evidence with our current public health “authorities” who are enamored with technological inventions and fetishize the long-shot vaccine talisman over old fashioned data analysis”

    None so blind…

    Fighting really hard to leave out the profanities and just point out what every sentient human being already knows — it’s not the “health authorities” who are pursuing this course, it is your God King Trump, who has ordered them down this path while also insisting they shovel tax money at anyone who has a tiny connection to him or his family while ignoring anyone who knows what they’re talking about.

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  17. wr says:

    At this point, we might as well just open the whole country up again. There is no way to shut down the economy forever — the only point is to shut things down while we find a permanent solution. But under this president, there is no work to find that solution. The federal government is doing nothing but giving money to Trump’s cronies. So no matter how long things stay closed, it’s going to be exactly the same when they open up again.

    Might as well let the Trump voters in red states start dying now as in six months.

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  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    You know what would have been really helpful? Time. Advance warning. Followed by quick, rational action, like South Korea. Unfortunately the cretin you support =ignored warnings, lied and did nothing. So don’t try to pass this off to states and localities.

    Are you prepared to say that Trump failed to do his job adequately and that a great deal of the blame for the US now being the center of the pandemic is his? Yes or no?

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  19. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The party that has for years hung it’s hat on “every life is precious” is now sacrificing lives for political reasons.
    It’s only appropriate that many of those who will die are in Red States.

    The incompetence of this administration has been awe-inspiring. They have failed at every single step. Laughable to see JKB, the consummate sycophant, blaming everyone else.

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  20. Kathy says:

    @KM:

    There’s a component of Schrodinger’s Virus, too, at least for some people.

    We cannot know without testing who is infected. If two uninfected people meet, their chance of catching SARS-CoV2 from each other is zero, but they don’t know that. Therefore they have to act as though they are infected, and keep their distance, refrain from touching, wearing masks, etc.

    The odds of coming in contact with an infected person are small, even in areas with lots of active cases. But count how many people get within six feet of you on a normal day when you commute, work, go out to lunch, go shopping, go to the movies, travel, etc. The odds then mount up. Contrast with how many people get that close to you in lock down rules. the odds are kept low.

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  21. mattbernius says:

    @JKB:

    Sadly, this has not been in evidence with our current public health “authorities” who are enamored with technological inventions and fetishize the long-shot vaccine talisman over old fashioned data analysis.

    Local man watches the president he supported and defended for the last three years (and most likely will vote for in the fall) push technological inventions and fetishize the long-shot vaccine talisman (not to mention relentlessly and recklessly pushed other short terms fixes like plaquenil until it was completely clear that it wasn’t working) and decides that the fault is with “authorities.”

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  22. NBH says:

    As this virus develops, flexibility will be crucial in determining how well we come out of it, and a willingness to listen to the viewpoints of those we don’t generally agree with is probably the most important trait we can have. But, as with so many other things, that seems to be one more fatality resulting from this virus.

    As usual, this is both-sides bullshit that misses the most important distinction. We should be willing to listen to the viewpoint of actual *experts* and their information regardless of whether or not we already agree with what they have to say. When a “side” chooses to dismiss the hard-earned knowledge of scientists and other professionals, then that “side” has nothing useful to contribute and nothing worth listening to. We are trapped in this farce not because sides won’t listen to each other but because 1 side has built an anti-intellectual cult of ignorance that rejects any information that doesn’t conform with their feelings of what should be true.

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  23. Nightcrawler says:

    @KM:

    It’s not going to work out the way they want; the economy is going to still suffer simply because people won’t go back to the way things were until they feel comfortable. Losing so many people in a short amount of time leaves a mark on the workforce – we’ll lose expertise, specialists, knowledgeable individuals and trained workers everywhere.

    This is what I’ve been saying all along.

    Not all employers will force employees back into the workplace, particularly white-collar jobs that can be done remotely. Employers who don’t care if their staff drops dead will be able to force some percentage of people back into the workplace, but they won’t be able to force those people to eat at restaurants, go on vacations, attend concerts, or do anything except go to work and perform essential shopping. Even if “only” 50% of consumers stay on lockdown, that’s an enormous hit for any business to take.

    Once my husband and I get back to Delaware, we’re not going anywhere. We used to run multiple local and regional half marathons. Immediately prior to the apocalypse, we ran Atlanta. NOLA and Nashville were next on the list, and Philadelphia in the fall. Both NOLA and Nashville were cancelled. Even if they hadn’t been, we wouldn’t have attended. You know what’s on our list now? Nothing. Not until there’s a vaccine or an effective treatment. I’ve also completely written off the notion of attending any comic cons. I was going to attend a Lucifer con in October, and David Duchovny was going to be touring late this year or early next year. Even if these events still go on, I won’t be at them.

    Yeah, we’re just us, but imagine throngs of other Americans likewise cancelling their plans.

    Foreign tourism is going to go right down the toilet, even if the borders are reopened (which is questionable). Only lunatics would want to take “vacations” in a disease-ridden country with an inadequate healthcare system.

    We’re going to see upticks in workplace violence when employees get infected, take the infection home, and kill vulnerable spouses, children, or other family members. Even if the employee themselves don’t care about the death, other relatives may not be so understanding. A certain percentage of these people will simply snap and decide to take revenge on the employer they feel killed their spouse/child/sibling/etc. This will especially be the case when a child dies.

    Speaking of children, evidence is emerging that pediatric COVID survivors may be at risk for another very serious illness:

    https://6abc.com/covid-19-coronavirus-kawasaki-disease-healthcheck/6154069/

    Adult COVID survivors don’t just go back to normal, either. This is why if I get infected and deteriorate, I don’t want a vent. I want to be euthanized, because I’d rather be dead than end up like this:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/06/opinion/coronavirus-recovery.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    All this, BTW, in a country where healthcare is an expensive luxury item, and people who get sick are blamed for their illnesses. Only bad people who make bad decisions get sick. COVID survivors will face not only bankruptcy and, in some cases, permanent disability, but widespread finger-pointing and discrimination.

    I’m still not ruling out secession by the blue states. It will be the only way to protect their people and their infrastructure.

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  24. inhumans99 says:

    @JKB:

    I see that others have responded but to add my 2 cents…dude, you are right, someone in charge should be screaming at folks not to cluster up in places like Churches where it is easy to spread an illness (any illness, cold, flu, pink eye, Covid). So why isn’t your guy screaming from the rooftops that the folks who insist on letting people go back to church are wrong and we need to keep up the social distancing?

    Seriously, we have someone in the White House who can provide top down leadership and guidance but has just chosen to try and ignore the pandemic and open up the economy because he is spooked at his re-election chances come this Fall.

    I mean, again…you are right, President Trump should be providing good advice on what to do during the pandemic…instead, Politico had a story up on a poll that was taken where folks felt the President’s advice was basically worse than if he provided no guidance at all.

    It is nice that you agree that too many people are pushing to open up too soon leading to potential future Covid outbreak hot spots, but instead of posting on this site send your words to your local Congressman/woman and ask them to insist that the President please tell people to stay home for at least another 2-3 weeks which will help us all get through this crisis.

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  25. Nightcrawler says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    Even worse, not only do conservatives want the “weak” to die, they want their deaths to be as painful and prolonged as possible. They want them to lie in their own feces and urine as they gasp for breath, as their lips turn blue.

    If my dog or cat became that ill, and I refused to have them euthanized, I would be arrested for animal cruelty, and rightfully so. Yet dying humans are not given the choice of humane euthanasia — which is what I would want if I became infected and went downhill.

    If my life has no value anyway because I’m “weak,” what difference would it make? I’d even pay for the lethal injection with my own money.

    Conservatives are hellbent on killing 3,000 people a day. They should be aware that once that death toll hits, patients are going to start demanding that they be given the same option of a humane death that’s currently extended to animals — and conservatives won’t have a leg to stand on, being as they’ve already decided that those 3,000 people all deserve to be dead.

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  26. Nightcrawler says:

    @inhumans99:

    instead of posting on this site send your words to your local Congressman/woman and ask them to insist that the President please tell people to stay home for at least another 2-3 weeks which will help us all get through this crisis.

    Right now, I’m in Florida. My “representatives” think that people like me deserve to be dead. They’ve felt this way for years. They’re hopping mad that I got breast cancer treatment while collecting Obamacare subsidies. (I take perverse pleasure in the fact that even if COVID kills me tomorrow, I already had several years that conservatives never wanted me to have. All I need do to enrage these people is exist.)

    Once I move back to Delaware, there’s still no point in contacting my representatives. They’ve already tried to talk sense into the GOP. Jolly lot of good that’s done. Perhaps next, they can go visit some serial killers in prison and try to make them see the error of their ways. They’ll get the same results.

    All I can hope for is secession. It’s the best option of a Hobson’s choice.

    7
  27. Nightcrawler says:

    @NBH:

    When someone thinks I deserve to be dead, that’s all I need to know about their “side.”

    I care about others’ lives as much as they do mine. No less — but also not one iota more.

    The only reason I “care” about Branch Covidians getting infected is that they, in turn, will infect and murder innocent people. And yes, I call it what it is: murder. Since they’re so hip about infecting other people, they can at least be honest about what they’re doing.

    Even serial killers own what they do.

    6
  28. JohnMcC says:

    Quite some time ago I heard an NPR show interviewing someone who does in fact put a dollar figure on human lives. It’s done all the time. How much should we invest in mitigating risks from for example an electrical product? How much insurance should a company buy when a new beverage in brought to market if there is some small number of people will have adverse reactions? There is a board of physicians in most states that judge how much a person’s death robbed them of; if you are killed in a preventable accident how much does the guilty party pay your next-of-kin? These are all decisions made daily.

    As I recall from the radio show, the value tends to be around one million. So those killed so far by the virus would “equal” an economic loss of about $72Billion.

    I don’t think this is a basis for making large public policy decisions, however.
    Lots more to consider than the economic ‘meaning’ of a life.

    3
  29. JohnMcC says:

    Also, too: Would connect this story with the diminishing support some recent polls show Mr Trump has among my demographic. Over 65s seem to be having reservations about our present Covid management program.

    3
  30. Sleeping Dog says:

    Trende is too blasé regarding the current status of “bending the curve” Axios has an edifying map of what the trend in new infections has been over the last week.

    1
  31. Teve says:

    The pandemic will soon test rural America. “COVID-19 Meets Poor Health and Collapsing Hospitals”.

    3
  32. NBH says:

    I must say, Trende did a decent job missing the point and strawmaning. But I’m completely unimpressed with his attempt to be a faux-expert. Part of “bending the curve” is keeping the curve from exploding back up again in exponential growth. Otherwise, you haven’t really bent the curve, just temporarily delayed it.

    And that’s where we are. Places like Georgia flattened the current growth with stay at home measures and created a temporary steady-state where new cases are stable, but do not appear to have the testing or tracking needed to meaningfully lower the rate, let alone maintain the current rate as limits are lifted. Instead, they’re risking the likelihood of needing a second lockdown after cases start growing exponentially again, doing a double-hit to the economy as we then have to take months to get back to the state we’re currently at.

    And all for an economy that’s already screwed. For personal examples, my summer vacation plans with relatives have all already been cancelled. Even as the lockdown rules lift, I’m minimizing my spending and going out as the politicians in charge have proven they are incompetent, their judgement is worthless, and large segments of Americans have proven well beyond a shadow of a doubt they are narcissistic idiots that are too dangerous to be around any more than the minimal time needed for groceries.

    Their short-sighted incompetence is only going to prolong the economic slump by ensuring covid19 will be a major problem for months to come.

    11
  33. Scott says:

    Those pushing the economy to be “reopened” (I really hate that term because it really isn’t closed except for some very public parts), keep forgetting that the reopening will be demand based. So much of our economy is consumer-driven and discretionary. People are not going to restaurants and bars if they still see a risk. Most people have enough clothes in their closets to last them a lifetime so they don’t need to rush out and shop. Purchases of cars are partially discretionary, also. Most can put off buying another one. No one is going to get on an airplane or cruise ship anytime soon. Vacations are going to be smaller and closer to home. I suspect the economy will not go back to what it was but transform to something different. And it won’t be easy.

    Also not helping is politicians, pundits, local leaders not leading and emphasizing freedom and liberty without a mention of responsibility. Because the goal will be to create demand and going out among the “freedom lovers” is not something I’m going to do. Therefore, there goes my demand for stuff.

    8
  34. Kathy says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    That’s really scary.

    Not many people think explicitly that way, but many do so implicitly. Until, I hope, its them being hurt.

    But if that is the future of the GOP, then secession isn’t only a good idea, it’s a moral one. Just keep enough nukes to stay safe.

    4
  35. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Scott:

    People are not going to restaurants and bars if they still see a risk.

    Interestingly I’ve been to three places recently that are operating more, or less, as modern day speakeasy’s. You call them up, place your order for food and beverage, and they will deliver your order to you outside their door. You are then free to consume said order in their parking lot, or yard, at social distances. Of course this part of CT is rural America.
    The idea of going to a crowded Happy Hour, standing shoulder to shoulder in a bar, seems years away. Or, more appropriately, a vaccine away.

    5
  36. Nightcrawler says:

    @Scott:

    As I keep saying, even if “only” 50% of consumers stay home, that’s a big hit for any business to absorb. The growth of remote work also factors into this equation. Many companies fully intend to keep a large percentage of remote positions remote, at least part of the time, even after COVID.

    That’s why I’m so busy right now. Everybody and their brother is buying technology to enable and secure remote workforces, and these are long-term capital investments.

    Also not helping is politicians, pundits, local leaders not leading and emphasizing freedom and liberty without a mention of responsibility.

    Oh, I’ve heard them talk about “responsibility,” but they place all the “responsibility” on people who don’t want to get infected with a highly contagious, deadly virus. If you get infected, it’s your fault. You shouldn’t have gone back to work, even though your employer said they’d fire you if you didn’t show up.

    5
  37. Kathy says:

    Back here, restrictions still apply, but it’s all rather highly voluntary. There’s buzz that it will get more strict as of tomorrow, but who knows.

    For the moment, thanks to the Puebla invitations I mentioned yesterday, the boss has stated we all need to be here to do the projects. he has a point, but, damn, we should take a stand and say “F.U.” to the “heroic” state of Puebla.

    I probably wouldn’t get fired if said I was sick and opted to stay home, but I also would get blamed for everything that goes wrong.

    What bugs me is I was going to request my vacation for the first two weeks of May, but decided not to because we finally instituted work from home.

  38. grumpy realist says:

    One good piece of news–it looks like the “reinfections” are nothing more than the continued recovery of the body which is still shedding dead virus.

    I’m about to get sworn in as an attorney tomorrow–virtually, over the internet.

    9
  39. Christopher Osborne says:

    @grumpy realist: Congrats!

    2
  40. Moosebreath says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Congrats. It’s always better to be sworn in than sworn at.

    1
  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Trump encouraged Americans to think of themselves as “warriors” as they consider leaving their homes…

    This from the guy who fought his “own personal Vietnam” in the bars of Manhattan. Hard pass, sorry. 🙁

    5
  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JKB:

    people are not warned that most important of all is to not engage in prolonged, close-range, face-to-face conversations, singing, yelling, other spittle ejecting activities, especially indoors.

    It may be that I’m just the equivalent of an infectious disease rocket scientist 😉 , but I was able to kinda suss that out on my own without being warned. Hmmmm…

    7
  43. EddieInCA says:

    We just hit 3057 deaths since midnight eastern, And we still have another 5.5 hours left in the 24 hour period. We might hit 3300 deaths in 24 hours today. And that’s the confirmed cases. That doesn’t count the “Covid Adjacent” deaths that have spiked.

    9/11 was 2996 deaths. We’re now over that DAILY.

    https://ncov2019.live/

    4
  44. Liberal Capitalist says:

    So.

    It comes down to two remarkably opposing views:

    1) That the virus is not as dangerous as some say, that Americans can manage their personal responsibility of social distancing seriously, and that personal independence during even a time of crisis is paramount and a cornerstone of our social psyche as a country.

    2) The virus is opportunistic, and that given a chance will spread. Americans are incapable of acting individually in the best interest of those around them, but that American’s will do and sacrifice what it takes if offered strong leadership that clearly sets the path to recovery.

    Right now, I know which side of the debate that I fall on. But my opinion doesn’t matter at all.

    We are about to all embark on a grand experiment as our country’s leadership has chosen Option #1.

    As for me, looking forward I have the option to be “safer-at-home” in Colorado. I have the finances that will allow me to continue my isolation for months (and months) to come. I have the ability to watch the next 3 months of statistics tell us who is right.

    We will see the outcome in August / September. And that will bring us right into November, where we can then provide our feedback on the outcome of the choices made.

    5
  45. Teve says:

    @EddieInCA: where are you getting the 3000+ deaths, I don’t see it on that site. At world o meter it’s 1,919 so far today.

  46. Teve says:

    NOVA had a Facebook post today about coronavirus. You would not believe half the goddamn comments. The vaccine will be worse than the disease just like the flu vaccine. Bill Gates is trying to control everyone. This disease is no worse than the flu but who knows what big Pharma is trying to inject you with. This is a hoax to take away our freedom’s. Vaccines can go to hell.

    4
  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Can’t fix stupid. 🙁

    1
  48. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    This would be a great time for government to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for children, and optional for adults.

    1
  49. CSK says:

    Charlie Baker, governor of Mass., looks as if he’s aged about 10-20 years in the past six weeks.

  50. DrDaveT says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Quite some time ago I heard an NPR show interviewing someone who does in fact put a dollar figure on human lives. It’s done all the time. […]

    As I recall from the radio show, the value tends to be around one million. So those killed so far by the virus would “equal” an economic loss of about $72Billion.

    It’s actually about $10 million per statistical life. Here’s a good general reference.

    Also, keep in mind that this is what society has shown itself to be willing to pay to save lives, not the economic value to the economy of an average life, or the money invested by society in an average life, or any other possible ways of trying to calculate a meaningful number. Also, there are more nuanced methodologies out there, such as the Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) methodology used in healthcare.

    1
  51. grumpy realist says:

    @Christopher Osborne: @Moosebreath: Thanks! Now I have to figure out how to build a(nother) career around this…

    1
  52. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Do you wish to be addressed as “Grumpy Realist, Esq.” henceforth? 😀

    2
  53. EddieInCA says:

    @Teve:

    Crap. The site I linked to reset to zero cases. It must reset at Greenwich Time.

    I use three sites daily:

    https://ncov2019.live/

    https://www.ft.com/content/a26fbf7e-48f8-11ea-aeb3-955839e06441 (great graphics to easily read)

    https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

  54. Gustopher says:

    Meanwhile, in Walla Walla, WA, people are having Covid Parties.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/06/its-irresponsible-washington-state-sees-sudden-rise-in-covid-parties

    Morons. They should be neutered in case there’s a chance their stupid genes would otherwise spread.

    2
  55. rachel says:

    @Nightcrawler:

    Foreign tourism is going to go right down the toilet, even if the borders are reopened…

    My husband and I normally go home to visit our families in the summer break, but that’s not happening this year even with the plane ticketss prices the cheapest I’ve seen in years. The prospect of 2 week’s quarantine going + 2 more week’s quarantine coming back + the risk to our health just isn’t worth it.

    1
  56. JohnMcC says:

    @DrDaveT: Thank you.

  57. Michael Reynolds says:

    I note that @JKB has not found the time to respond to any of the comments upstream, nor answer my question:

    Are you prepared to say that Trump failed to do his job adequately and that a great deal of the blame for the US now being the center of the pandemic is his? Yes or no?

    Culties are like computers on the original Star Trek: if you ask them the wrong question they start sputtering and gibbering and shooting sparks.

    3
  58. 95 South says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You still haven’t answered my question, and I’m willing to donate $50 to charity if you do.

  59. Michael Reynolds says:
  60. 95 South says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    sputtering and gibbering and shooting sparks

  61. engineerman says:

    according to cuomo 66 % of new cases last week were from people staying home and 90% in ny city who were also working from home.and 96% of those people had co-morbidities,things like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes , COPD.
    so the plan should be if you are healthy and bellow about 55 yr old you should go back to life with precautions such as masks. everyone else in the higher risk group should shelter and avoid contact with others .