Several states, including Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee are already relaxing stay-at-home orders. Tattoo parlours, cinema complexes and bowling allies are apparently now safe to visit in Georgia. In reality, such venues are ideal for super-spreaders. In the trade-off between growth and health, reopening the economy too soon achieves neither. Scientists warn such measures will sharply increase the chances of a second wave of coronavirus.
That, in turn, would trigger another instant depression. Economists point out that the US is not even in a recession, which is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Yet JPMorgan forecasts that the US economy will shrink by 40 per cent in the second quarter. American unemployment is likely to hit 20 per cent when the April number comes out next week. In reality, the US economy is already in depression. Nothing on this scale — and at this speed — has been seen since the Great Depression in the early 1930s. It took the second world war to dig the US out of that. It will take a vaccine, or a miracle prophylactic, to stop America’s first depression in almost a century.