With President Trump saying he wants “the country opened” by Easter to salvage the U.S. economy, a fierce debate is now raging among policymakers over the necessity of shutting down vast swaths of American society to combat the novel coronavirus.
Health experts point to overwhelming evidence from around the world that closing businesses and schools and minimizing social contact are crucial to avoid exponentially mounting infections. Ending the shutdown now in America would be disastrous, many say, because the country has barely given those restrictions time to work, and because U.S. leaders have not pursued alternative strategies used in other countries to avert the potential deaths of hundreds of thousands.
But in recent days an increasing number of political conservatives have argued that the economic cost is too high. At a town hall broadcast Tuesday, Trump suggested dire consequences if at least some economic sectors aren’t restored.
“You’re going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression,” Trump said. “… You’re going to have all sorts of things happen, you’re going to have instability. You can’t just come in and say let’s close up the United States of America, the biggest, the most successful country in the world by far.”
At the event, Trump amplified a message that has been bubbling among conservative pundits in recent days. Speaking of the economy, he said, “The faster we go back, the better it’s going to be.”
The stance has many worried, including some in the president’s own party. “There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the House’s highest-ranking Republican woman, wrote in a Tuesday tweet. [Continue reading…]