PISC Senior Scholar M. Kit Delgado, MD, recently authored an opinion piece on the struggle between COVID-19 precaution and economic health. He notes that there are notions that either the economy must be locked down to prevent deaths from coronavirus or have less restriction to prevent economic devastation and its consequences. He believes these notions to be false, stating that more aggressive public health measures and buy-in will prevent both and lead to normalcy faster.
Dr. Delgado highlights the potential harms of widespread economic hardship. Poverty and Joblessness has been historically associated with death. Deaths rose in countries that experienced permanent factory shutdowns. In the United States, over 133,000 deaths per year are associated with individual-level poverty.
He lists compelling examples of how both COVID-19 safety and economic stability or even growth may proceed. One example he notes is, "U.S. cities that were more aggressive with public health measures to get the 1918 flu pandemic under control grew faster economically after the pandemic was over and had fewer deaths."
The four things Dr. Delgado states that protesters really should be demanding to reopen the economy:
Widely available, reliable, rapid COVID-19 tests
A public health workforce and tech solutions to rapidly trace contacts of new cases
Business safeguards that include personal protective equipment, physical distancing, cleaning and disinfection
Personal adherence to physical distancing to reduce spread until testing ramps up and cases decrease