Is it time to think about reopening the country? Most politicians would say the opposite. In fact, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that quarantines and business closings to slow the spread of the coronavirus could go on for the better part of a year.
“This is not a short-term situation,” Cuomo said during a news conference in Albany. “This is not a long weekend. This is not a week.
“The timeline — nobody can tell you, it depends on how we handle it — but 40 percent, up to 80 percent of the population will wind up getting this virus, all we’re trying to do is slow the spread. But it will spread. It is that contagious.”
This was, according to Cuomo, “nothing to panic over.”
As former Fox News and NBC News host Megyn Kelly noted, however, this wasn’t something that most New Yorkers were going to countenance.
“New Yorkers are not going to stay quarantined and in shutdown for 9 months. I’ve lived in NY my whole life; I just don’t see that happening,” she tweeted Sunday.
New Yorkers are not going to stay quarantined and in shutdown for 9 months. l’ve lived in NY my whole life; I just don’t see that happening. https://t.co/shLnxVDbv6
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) March 23, 2020
Kelly isn’t alone. Many conservatives are calling for the nation to consider whether it’s time to reopen the nation’s economy.
On Sunday, The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh asked in a tweet why we couldn’t “open the economy up” and “let young and healthy people work and feed themselves and their families,” while quarantining nursing homes and those who are infected and telling “other especially at risk people to remain home for now.”
I’m not an expert but why wouldn’t this work:
-open the economy up, let young and healthy people work and feed themselves and their families
-quarantine nursing homes
-tell other especially at risk people to remain home for now
-test aggressively and quarantine the infected
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) March 22, 2020
“The people advocating that we keep these shutdowns going for weeks or months longer simply aren’t grappling with or even acknowledging the human cost of the economic collapse that is certain to follow,” he tweeted Monday.
“They seem to be ignoring that aspect of the issue. And that worries me.”
The people advocating that we keep these shutdowns going for weeks or months longer simply aren’t grappling with or even acknowledging the human cost of the economic collapse that is certain to follow. They seem to be ignoring that aspect of the issue. And that worries me.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) March 23, 2020
Tom Fitton, head of Judicial Watch, was another who questioned the wisdom of an extended lockdown. Responding Monday to a tweet about Cuomo starting to treat COVID-19 patients with the promising drug combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, he said, “We need to reopen the country.”
We need to reopen the country. https://t.co/xHqtwS8u2q
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) March 23, 2020
In another tweet Monday, responding to news that GOP Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was ordering nonessential businesses in his state to shutter, Fitton said the order was as problematic as one of the most counterproductive habits we’ve seen in the COVID crisis.
“Shutting down all businesses is the gov’t equivalent of hoarding toilet paper — and far more damaging to the pubic health and welfare,” he wrote.
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) March 23, 2020
Sean Davis, co-founder of The Federalist, pointed to a graph of new infections by illness onset from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention as evidence that it was time to reopen the country.
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 23, 2020
Federalist contributor Jesse Kelly was among the first to bang the drum about the devastating economic damage of the shutdown.
“JUST SHUT EVERYTHING DOWN NOW” sounds great on Twitter. Sounds like you’ve really taken this seriously.
Also sounds like you have zero perspective on the real world. Ever needed your next check or they shut off your power? Ever ran a business with 5% margins?
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) March 16, 2020
“Dear Politicians,” he tweeted Friday. “As of this moment the public is scared and they’re letting you shut America down. However, we’re about to have unemployment claims in the MILLIONS and their fear is gonna turn to anger. Anger at YOU.
“Let America get back to work. And I mean REALLY soon.”
As of this moment the public is scared and they’re letting you shut America down. However, we’re about to have unemployment claims in the MILLIONS and their fear is gonna turn to anger. Anger at YOU.
Let America get back to work. And I mean REALLY soon. https://t.co/JRzIx8pUVo
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) March 20, 2020
And then there was the president. In an all-caps tweet Monday, Trump said America “CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF.”
WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2020
That said, we’re living through one of the great crises in recent American history. We don’t know the extent of it yet.
However, one of the reasons COVID-19 is one of the great crises is precisely because our economy is frozen in place. Goldman Sachs estimates more unemployment claims were filed last week than at any time on record — 2.25 million, according to CNN.
The government can help us through this time of grave danger. It can also create more danger. We have to carefully balance our priorities here.
Life might not go back to normal immediately, but a timeline needs to be established regarding how we can get back to normalcy as quickly as possible. It doesn’t have to happen all it once — in fact, it almost certainly can’t. Phasing it in needs to be a priority.
Reopening the country right now is almost certainly an overoptimistic proposition. However, on the other end, there’s not any precedent for a nine-month shutdown, nor would Americans countenance it.
If we don’t start talking balance, we could end with a cure that ends up killing us all in other ways.
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