On Thursday, America learned that well over three million job people submitted claims for unemployment insurance in the past week, largely thanks to a national economic shutdown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. But somehow worse is that our leadership has wavered from chaotic to unreliable to, most recently, existentially dangerous. I’m referring, of course, to President Trump’s suggestion that we must soon, for the sake of the economy, pivot away from social distancing and other outbreak containment efforts.
In theory, unprecedented job-loss numbers like these could serve as fodder for that argument—one in which the president has been joined by a coterie of fringe figures. But that’s not only exactly wrong from a public-health perspective, but also an economic one.
In other words, if you think these layoff numbers are scary, trust me when I tell you they’d be even more nightmarish—and more routine—if we prematurely pretend it’s safe to go back to work, shop, and eat out again.
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