May 12, 2020
The economy will be opened up anyway, because state and local governments are going broke due to lack of tax revenue. That’s not just greed speaking. That’s just the reality that if state and local governments cease to function we lose far more people than coronavirus could ever kill on its own. Among other things, the operations of state and local governments keep millions of people fed with “food stamp” type programs, and housed through section 8. They fund all the public health and emergency services departments which are vital to coordinating the effort against coronavirus, and a host of other health threats. Local governments, unless you live in a very rural area, even make sure your toilets continue to flush.
None of that continues to happen without economic activity.
We assumed nearly everyone would get infected eventually, and we shut everything down to keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed. In my part of the country the hospitals have been so empty, for a month and a half now, that even non-profit hospitals can’t afford to pay employees. They’re laying off about 30% to 40% of hospital staff due to lack of patients in the middle of a pandemic!
That would be great if we could just stay on lockdown and keep the hospitals empty for years while hoping to discover a vaccine. We can’t do that though. Remember the food stamps and the public health departments and the toilets that will stop flushing?
We have to get things moving again sometime. It will have to be before a vaccine is available. That means coronavirus is going to have a “2nd wave” when we do it. There’s just no way around that. The only “silver lining” is that we’ve got plenty of extra hospital capacity to deal with a surge, of it ever comes. The hospitals will just need a little warning so they can bring 1/3 or more of their employees back from furloughs and layoffs.