Minneapolis Federal Reserve head Neel Kashkari says the United States needs a full economic shutdown for up to six weeks to halt the infection spike of COVID-19 — “and get it right this time.”
In a Friday New York Times commentary written by Kashkari and Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota, the pair argued the initial March lockdown did not go far enough.
“To be effective, the lockdown has to be as comprehensive and strict as possible,” they wrote.
“If we aren’t willing to take this action, millions more cases with many more deaths are likely before a vaccine might be available. In addition, the economic recovery will be much slower, with far more business failures and high unemployment for the next year or two.”
During the initial lockdown, the shuttering of American businesses led to the loss of at least 20 million jobs, only about half of which have been recovered during the restart, CNBC reported.
Kashkari and Osterholm said despite containment efforts so far, the United States is still recording 17 new cases per 100,000 people a day, with more than 160,000 total deaths attributed to the virus.
“Simply, we gave up on our lockdown efforts to control virus transmission well before the virus was under control,” they wrote, adding another lockdown would set up a path for a stronger recovery.
“If we do this aggressively, the testing and tracing capacity we’ve built will support reopening the economy as other countries have done, allow children to go back to school and citizens to vote in person in November. All of this will lead to a stronger, faster economic recovery, moving people from unemployment to work,” they wrote.
“There is no trade-off between health and the economy,” they added. “Both require aggressively getting control of the virus. History will judge us harshly if we miss this life- and economy-saving opportunity to get it right this time.”
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