save lives or open up?

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Question: 

In light of the current pandemic, and constant feuding about what it means for our economy, I wanted to ask what the best long term solution is for reopening the United States economy. Is it in the best interest of our economy to reopen soon, losing lives, or is minimizing the death in the long term a better economic strategy?

Answer: 

In short, we do not know, especially so because nothing like this has hit the US in modern times. The Great Depression was a massive disrupter and devastator but caused ultimately by economic forces from within. This time around, the fundamentals of the economy were basically sound when an external shock hit. As to your specific question, many economists feel a combination of aggressive testing, periodic shut-downs, selected re-openings is the way to go. Both extremes, shutting everything down or opening everything up, will either lead to a long-lived economic disaster or loss of lives. In the end, when this is all over, many lives will be lost and there will be considerable economic pain.

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Last updated on May 17, 2020