If there is consensus on any point, it is that the struggle toward normal social and economic life will take much more time, effort and money than at first thought. The risks of a years-long economic Depression have risen; fact-driven officials have become increasingly sober in their outlook; and the coming weeks and coming set of choices have emerged as critical to the future.
Faced with two distinct paths – a cavalier acceptance of the mass deaths that would be needed for “herd immunity” or the truly strict lockdown needed to extinguish the virus – “we are not on either route,” Harvard University economist James Stock, among the first to model the health and economic tradeoffs the country faces, said last week.
That means no clear end in sight to the economic and health pain.
“I am really concerned we are just going to hang out. We will have reopened across the board, not in a smart way … and we will have months and months of 15% or 20% unemployment,” Stock said. “It is hard to state how damaging that will be.”