During a visit to a Ford plant in Detroit, President Donald Trump said that the country will not be shut down again if a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak occurs in the fall or winter.
“We are going to put out the fires. We’re not going to close the country,” Trump said. “We can put out the fires. Whether it is an ember or a flame, we are going to put it out. But we are not closing our country.”
Health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have said that it is likely there will be a second wave of infections this fall, and that it may put stress on hospitals if it hits at the same time as influenza.
It isn’t clear how long people will be observing social distancing during the current wave or whether Trump or Fauci will recommend taking precautions like wearing masks and social distancing if a second wave does hit.
Have lockdowns worked?
The lockdowns that started in most U.S. states in March have been fiercely debated over their effectiveness and whether they are causing bigger problems like food insecurity, depression, anxiety, and increased drug and alcohol addiction. One recent study that followed people for more than a decade showed that social isolation led to a nearly 50% increase in deaths from all causes–there’s more to consider than just a virus with an ever-decreasing death rate.
Another wave of lockdowns could exacerbate these secondary problems and plunge the U.S. economy into a prolonged depression that might lead to long-term economic damage.
Not only that, but whether lockdowns have actually prevented the spread of coronavirus or lessened deaths is an open question. States that did not lock down have had few cases and deaths, and at least one-third of deaths in the U.S. have been in nursing homes that have kept away visitors since the beginning of March.
As with most rushed policies with little preparation, there are many unintended consequences of lockdown policies. People being negatively impacted have pointed out the unfairness of allowing large numbers of people in grocery stores and Walmarts and Home Depots, but keeping smaller boutiques and locally owned stores shut down for months.
If it’s safe to be at Walmart, why is it not safe to go to other stores with the same social distancing precautions? And why aren’t many people getting sick in places where other stores and even restaurants have remained open?
Reopening a slow process
Georgia has been in the process of reopening for nearly a month, but has not seen the economic resurgence hoped for by many. The process has been slow, with most businesses unable to operate at full capacity and not needing their full staff.
However, new cases in the state are still going down despite the reopening, so maybe they will be able to accelerate their plans in the near future.
As of this week, all 50 states have taken steps toward reopening, but it remains to be seen what will happen economically and with the virus once those plans come to fruition in their entirety.