We must reopen our economy — unlike the mainstream media and political elites who would like you to believe the coronavirus lockdown is a health-versus-the economy issue, the lockdown is actually a health-versus-health issue too.
There are serious health consequences of keeping the American economy shut down, whether its suicide rates spiking, cardiac procedures not being received, cancer screenings declining, or children going without their routine vaccinations. Not to mention the widening economic disparity between the rich and the poor, which has its own health implications as well.
Yes, there are risks associated with reopening the economy, but we now have the hospital beds and testing available to mitigate these risks. The whole idea behind “flattening the curve,” of which most Americans happily obliged, was to ensure localities had these important resources. Now that they do, the goal-posts have somehow been moved to “stay-at-home until we find a cure,” which would not only devastate our economy, but our nation’s health as well.
Just take into consideration the following statistics since the nation went into lockdown:
• In April, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline saw a 1,000 percent increase in text messages related to the coronavirus lockdown.
• Screenings for cervical, colon and breast cancer have decreased between 86 percent and 94 percent during the lockdown period.
• Over 80,000 diagnoses of five common cancers in the United States are projected to be missed or delayed during the period of early March to June.
• Nearly 75,000 Americans could die from drug or alcohol abuse and suicide as a result of COVID-19.
• Over 5,000 people called the National Domestic Violence hotline since mid-March and cited coronavirus as a trigger.
• Childhood vaccination efforts nearly ground to a halt between March 13 — when the national emergency was declared — and April 19.
Moreover, the L.A. Times reported the economic devastation the pandemic has had on the ultra-poor could ultimately kill more people than the virus itself.
“The U.N. predicts the coronavirus could push an additional 130 million people to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020. World Vision, an international Christian aid organization, warns that 30 million children are at risk of dying,” the newspaper reported.
In the United States alone, one in five people who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, and this disproportionally affected low-income workers. Nearly 40 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, Federal Reserve data showed.
Everything from life expectancy to infant mortality and obesity — can be linked to the level of economic inequality within a given population and greater economic inequality appears to lead to worse health outcomes, according to the Institute of Policy Studies.
It’s time to ease up restrictions and manage this virus prudently.
State and local officials need to make responsible decisions on how and when to reopen based on scientific data, yet many of them are not.
In almost half of the reported counties within the U.S., there has not been a single coronavirus death, and 62 percent of all coronavirus cases come in just 2 percent of the reported counties, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Meaning, there are wide swathes of this country that are safe to reopen. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to reopening but reopen we must.
Scientists, doctors and political figures are calling the shots for the working class, yet they have less at stake — most are still getting paid and have the privilege of working from home. Yet, many average Americans simply do not and must continue to put food on their table and support their families amid the backdrop of this pandemic.
Americans understand there’s risk involved in reopening — all they’re asking for is the choice to take that risk safely and responsibly. Instead of judgment from the ruling class, there should be sympathy and respect for these workers, who have everything at stake, from their personal health to their economic livelihoods.
• Kelly Sadler is the communications director for America First Policies, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting policy initiatives that put America First and a former special assistant to President Trump.
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