President Donald Trump has created a stir by targeting Easter for a reopening of the American economy from all the various shutdowns in the wake of the Wuhan virus. “I would love to have the country, opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” Trump told Fox News during a Rose Garden event. But during the Coronavirus Task Force press conference today, Trump appeared to backtrack from that Easter deadline saying he would only reopen the country after consulting with public health professionals.
The Task Force last week issued a 15-day “stay at home” guideline, which is voluntary. However, Louisiana has issued a “stay at home” order which requires all “non-essential” businesses to close until April 13, which is the day after Easter.
It goes without saying that the decision of whether or not to reopen businesses has to be made with public health in mind. We should not have to choose between killing the economy or killing seniors. With all due respect to Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, seniors should not be asked to sacrifice themselves in order to get the country going again.
But President Trump is right, we need an exit strategy for the end of these shutdowns. Maintaining these shutdowns “for the duration of the crisis” or for “months” as has been suggested is simply not a viable option. Eventually, people will no longer comply with those “stay at home” orders.
We need to set a target date for the reopening of some businesses and the economy. We also need to set some benchmarks such as the rate of new Wuhan virus cases and whether or not those are on the decline and communicate those to the people. We also need to have as many tests available as possible. There needs to be an exit strategy from these shutdowns so people can resume their normal lives.
U.S. Congressman Chip Roy (R-Texas) wrote in National Review on the need for setting a target date for the country to get back to work.
The most important thing we need to do — right now — is to announce a date to signal our economic restart, get folks back to work, and build the confidence we need to get capital flowing. Perhaps that date should be around April 1. Perhaps it should be April 15. In consultation with our nation’s health experts, the federal government must announce a date within the coming weeks, no later. Then, cautiously, we can let our kids finish the school year and graduate, and sprint into the summer.
All our national leaders need to work to ensure that we have the medical challenges of the pandemic under control and that we can quickly bridge the financial gap before us. We cannot achieve success without declaring a D-Day for the coronavirus, and marshaling all our collective energies toward restarting our economy. Together we can and will do this, just as we defeated Nazism, put a man on the moon, eradicated polio, and rebuilt Manhattan after 9/11. It’s what Americans do when we are given a specific mission.
There needs to be an exit strategy for the end of these shutdowns. Set a tentative date for when less strict guidance can be issued by the federal government. If that date cannot be kept, explain why and set another one.
Small businesses are hurting all over Louisiana and the country. Gig workers have been particularly hard hit since they cannot draw unemployment benefits. They need some clarity about when they can go back to work. We need an exit strategy from all of these shutdowns and we need it now.