‘We’re on the Cusp of an Economic Catastrophe’: Experts Sound the Alarm at Potential for More Lockdowns

A statue of George Washington at Federal Hall is clear of tourists due to health concerns to stop the spread of Coronavirus in New York City, March 21, 2020.

By Published on August 26, 2020

The massive, widespread lockdowns that governments across the world ordered as coronavirus spread proved to be ineffective and costly, according to experts.

The World Health Organization named the coronavirus a pandemic in March and President Donald Trump declared a national emergency days later as the virus spread rapidly around the world. A series of voluntary and government-ordered lockdowns ensued causing economic devastation, which nations are still suffering from, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“We’re on the cusp of an economic catastrophe,” said Harvard University economist James Stock, WSJ reported. “We can avoid the worst of that catastrophe by being disciplined.”

Stock is currently researching methods that mitigate the spread of the virus that don’t involve large lockdowns alongside Dr. Michael Mina, a Harvard University epidemiologist, according to WSJ.

“We’re harming the economy, waffling back and forth between what is right, what is wrong with a slow drift of companies closing their doors for good,” said Mina who called the U.S. approach to the pandemic a “complete disaster,” WSJ reported.

About 400 million jobs have been lost across the world while 13 million have been lost in the United States alone, according to WSJ.

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Mina criticized the inconsistent approach to combating coronavirus in the U.S., which has involved lockdowns followed by reopenings followed by more lockdowns, WSJ reported.

Adopting social distancing policies and focusing on isolating the elderly in nursing homes, who accounted for 45% of U.S. deaths despite representing 0.6% of the population, rather than sweeping lockdowns could have prevented the economic collapse that occurred, according to WSJ. Those policies would have also saved lives.

“Emphasize the reopening of the highest economic benefit, lowest risk endeavors,” said Mina, WSJ reported. Stock and Mina proposed an alternate plan for a potential second wave that involves businesses reopening with social distancing measures, working from home and a mask mandate.

“If you use all these measures, it leaves lots of room for the economy to reopen with a very small number of deaths,” Stock said, according to WSJ. “Economic shutdowns are a blunt and very costly tool.”

 

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