In my view, “lives” vs. “the economy” is a false choice.
Let’s say the Imperial College study Trump cited was correct and 2 million Americans died suddenly in the next three-six months. How catastrophic economically would that have been? Increased medical debt, time off for bereavement, lost institutional knowledge, lower productivity and morale due to grief would be significantly higher. We will still face these economic challenges but at a much lower number.
A large percentage of the country is still working and businesses are functioning, albeit in a different way. Those changes will create new revenue streams and opportunities in a couple of months.
Companies and individuals are hoarding cash, and that will be released once we get some signs of relief. That’s why the market has these historic gains the second some good news takes place. When people can get out to restaurants, they are going to go out will tip well. Companies laid employees off in an effort to avoid paying the new Congressionally-mandated paid time off they couldn’t afford without sales coming in. Most companies will rehire the majority of their employees the second they can open.
Whole Foods, Amazon, Instacart and other companies are about to see work strikes due to unsafe conditions. Liability lawsuits against multiple companies are inevitable. The “let’s get back to work crowd” is not factoring in the people that don’t want to be around other human beings. Would the workers upset two weeks ago make the same choice today? It should be the business and worker’s choice and not that of the government.
Some form of sheltering-in-place would have been necessary even with a ton of tests. The lack of tests meant that American society had to choose between very high death counts or still-too-high death counts. It’s a pandemic and some form of a recession was inevitable. It’s better to have human beings alive, safely in their homes, and hoarding cash for when they can spend it.
I know there is no room for a gray area in our society anymore and we all let discourse distill down into the lowest IQ argument possible.
The reality is that a pandemic is going to cause death and economic destruction. Societies can only control to what degree and some timing on things. Our responsibility is to stay as educated as possible on the different threads within something like this and make good choices for our communities, families, and ourselves.