As America continues to take action to slow the spread of the coronavirus and Congress works through its next steps on COVID-19 response, a new debate is beginning over the health and economic tradeoffs of prevention measures like social distancing and business closures. President Trump kickstarted the debate with his comment that, “I would love to have the country opened and up and just raring to go by Easter.”
He’s not the only one with an opinion. Business leaders, medical experts, influencers, and elected officials are all beginning to weigh in. But there are divisions even within specialties. On the public health front, voices like Dr. Zeke Emanuel have noted that, “People are not going to go to Disney World if they die or get coronavirus…no matter how open the economy is,” while others like Dr. John Ioannidis have argued that “…locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational.” Business and thought leaders are also divided, with Apple’s Tim Cook and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos touting their efforts to close stores, support employees, and have their companies play a constructive role, and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman arguing for an approach that balances health and safety, while James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal questions business closings in the wake of nearly 3.3 million new jobless claims. On the political front, governors from both sides of the aisle have reiterated the importance of response measures, while Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick suggested that grandparents wouldn’t want to sacrifice their grandchildren’s economic future just for their own survival.
Below you can see where selected thought leaders stand on the COVID-19 risk versus growth continuum.
*With credit to Kahla Haber-Brown for graphics.