Re-opening the American Economy – A Prudent Path Forward
Thursday, April 30, 2020
We need to get back to work. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, our economy was booming. We had record-low unemployment. Families were earning more and saving more. Our American economy was creating new jobs and new opportunities.
It’s time to restore the American economy.
The people of Pennsylvania have been through tough times. We were called on to sacrifice for others, and we did so admirably, giving up income, social contact, recreation, and foregoing lifetime milestones like graduations and weddings.
We all have a great deal to be proud of. Now it’s time to safely begin to reopen our nation and restore our economy.
A prudent path forward needs to be built on three key principles.
First, we need to recognize that there is no such thing as a perfect policy or practice that will ensure complete protection from a virus like COVID-19. We are past the peak, but the danger is not over. People will continue to contract coronavirus – and other diseases.
Second, we cannot continue the lockdown. Tens of millions of people are unemployed. Lives and businesses have been destroyed. People have foregone medical care and routine screenings. People are battling mental anguish from the loss of jobs, isolation, and worrying about how to take care of their families. Our federal government stepped in to help, but the current rate of spending is unsustainable.
Third, we live in a diverse country, and local governments know their constituencies best. This pandemic – like any disease that is spread human-to-human – thrives in higher-density communities. We need to let county and municipal elected officials make the important decisions.
My recommendation contains three primary elements: Protect the vulnerable, open gradually, and plan for the future.
Element One: Continue to fight the spread and effects of Covid-19.
• Prioritize the protection of nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and at-risk communities. The care of our most vulnerable citizens needs to be at the top of our priority list.• Continue to encourage the wearing of masks where smart social distancing is not feasible.• Maintain best practices regarding hand washing and sanitizing of surfaces. • Continue to encourage seniors-only shopping hours at stores.• Enact an aggressive testing, contact tracing, notification, and self-quarantine program to isolate and limit new outbreaks.
Element Two: Re-open the economy and end the lockdown.
• Immediately re-open outdoor spaces while still encouraging social distancing.• Immediately re-open retail and commercial businesses that pose a low risk for transmission.• Utilize limits on occupancy, better cleaning practices, and the wearing of masks and gloves to allow for the re-opening of businesses such as restaurants.• Ask commercial and professional offices to evaluate and implement better personnel spacing and more stringent limits on personal contact to better prevent workplace transmission. Encourage those companies who are using telecommuting to continue to do so when feasible.
Element Three: Plan for the future.
• Empanel a blue-ribbon task force, composed of private and public experts, to review federal and state preparedness for 3 levels of disease outbreak: local outbreak, epidemic, and pandemic. From that, make recommendations for detection, containment, supply inventory, equipment requirements, etc.
• Encourage private businesses and families to create their own emergency preparedness plans and maintain adequate amounts of basic supplies. This is good practice for many potential emergencies such as natural disasters.
• Create a national climate – business friendly and “buy American” – that incentivizes and encourages businesses to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. We must have secure and reliable supply chains.