Top economist warns Trump’s push to prematurely reopen economy could cause ‘a depression’

'Highly distressing & disappointing': 5 reasons why reopening the economy will prove to be a bad idea

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Even as the coronavirus cases in the U.S. hit 1.38 million this week, and second waves sweep Germany, China, and South Korea, states across the nation seek to re-open.

For instance, Missouri’s Republican Governor Mike Parson announced that the state can now resume concerts. Alabama and Florida’s governors re-opened beaches, while hair salons are open for business in states like Colorado, Georgia, and Oklahoma.

Experts believe that this is a gamble that’s probably not going to end well. Here are five reasons why:

1. The pandemic is still at its peak

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While cases might be decreasing in places that were the worst-affected, like New York, “Cases have increased and reached a plateau,” according to Stephen Kissler, a research fellow who maps models of pandemics at Harvard.

What does that mean? He told Vox that easing restrictions and exposing people to an environment where there are more infected people than ever before could be worse.

“Instead of starting from one or two cases in each city, we’re going to be starting from hundreds of cases or thousands of active cases in each city.”

2. Re-opening could cause another Depression

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Most states could be reopening to boost the economy, but it could do precisely the opposite.

Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, a financial intelligence provider, told CNBC,

“If we get a second wave, it will be a depression. We may not shut down again, but certainly, it will scare people and spook people and weigh on the economy.”

In case you were wondering what an economic depression is defined as, Zandi defines it as 12 or more months of double-digit unemployment.

3. The U.S. is currently ‘lacking leadership at the federal level’

Obama prepared for a potential pandemic. Trump gutted his work. 1

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What has caused the number of unnecessary deaths and the economic crash? According to Melinda Gates, it’s because the U.S. is currently “lacking leadership at the federal level.”

After calling the virus a Democratic hoax, saying “nobody” could have predicted the pandemic (after receiving repeated warnings about it in February), and spreading misinformation, Trump and his administration have come under fire for their handling of coronavirus.

The philanthropist and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation told Yahoo Finance that,

“It’s highly distressing and disappointing to have 50 state-grown solutions is inefficient, it makes no sense, and it’s costing people their lives. The lack of action is really causing harm and hurt unnecessarily in this country.

In short, Gates graded the administration a D-minus for their pandemic response.

4. No ‘herd immunity’ against COVID-19 — or a vaccine

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“Herd immunity” is the process by which the majority of the population becomes immune to a disease either through vaccination or through widespread infection. Being in the “herd” protects those that aren’t immune or can’t be vaccinated for health reasons.

According to several studies, “Pretty consistently they’re telling us we’re still in the single digits,” Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida, told Vox.

And since the U.S. is a sprawling nation of more than 328 million people, one study found that it would take the country until 2022 to achieve it. All this to say, millions are still vulnerable.

5. Not enough plans (or testing)

'Highly distressing & disappointing': 5 reasons why reopening the economy will prove to be a bad idea 1

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Why were states under lockdown in the first place? Because the CDC-fund-cutting Trump admin didn’t have any other tools in hand.

Eleanor Murray, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health told Vox,

“We had to go that route because we didn’t have other tools in place. What we should have been doing while we were in lockdown was building up that capacity…I think what we’re seeing right now is that people are getting sick of lockdown, but [do we] have those other tools really ready to go?”

This week, Harvard researchers have said that more than half of U.S. states aren’t doing enough COVID-19 tests to reopen safely.

According to the COVID Tracking Project, 146,000 people are being tested nationally, on an average. But the numbers it should hit according to Harvard estimates? 500,000 to 700,000.

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