President Trump previously stated he aimed to reopen the country for business by Easter. April 12th is only a couple of shorts weeks away, and many think that is too soon to lift the closures imposed on businesses, schools, and social events (now extended to April 30). Some say they fear for their lives if they contract the coronavirus. They claim it’s selfish of people to leave the safety of their homes and possibly spread the virus to others.
Trump said our country was not built to be shut down, and he is correct. Our economy needs to resume functioning, and hints of his plan to divide the country into zones according to Covid-19 cases and gradually reopen businesses is a glimmer of hope in these financially volatile times. Unemployment soared overnight. Workers in hard hit industries such as hospitality, food service, airline travel, and entertainment (yes, performance arts are important) lost their paychecks indefinitely and without warning. The stock market fell fast and hard, dissipating value from retirement accounts, college funds, and other portfolios across the country.
Supporters of the massive shutdown say the drastic move was necessary in order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The virus causes Covid-19, which has claimed approximately 30,000 lives worldwide. New York is currently America’s coronoavirus epicenter, reporting over 52,000 cases and over 700 deaths. Less populous and more inland states are experiencing much lower infection rates. Idaho has under 300 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 5 deaths. North Dakota has about 100 cases and one death.
Shutting down the economy in states that are far removed from the coronavirus epicenters doesn’t significantly help the national goal of flattening the curve. Economies in designated areas can be safely reopened without hampering the efforts of those working hard to stop the spread of Covid-19, though. Travel to and from the hot spots should be restricted. Resources need to directed to where they are most needed: cities experiencing a rapid surge of confirmed cases, nursing homes, retirement communities, etc.
A push to reopen carefully vetted sections of the country doesn’t prioritize dollars over lives. The shutdown has negatively impacted citizens’ lives in a multitude of non-monetary ways. Domestic violence rates are on the rise, as people are confined to close quarters and dealing with the stress of losing jobs and trying to pay bills. The government has ordered people to stay home as much as possible, which leaves many vulnerable women and children with no safe place to go during the day.
Some landlords are showing leniency towards renters who unexpectedly lost their jobs in the crush of coronavirus closures. Many are not as understanding, evicting tenants of all income levels who suddenly can’t pay their next month’s rent.
America is a vast, diverse country, and a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Residents of areas that are not hot spots for the virus should be allowed to reopen businesses, send their kids to school, and keep their local economies functioning. The nation needs to maintain a baseline economy at the very least in order to weather this storm and not fall into a deep recession – or, worse yet, another depression.