The White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, is charged with coordinating the country’s medical supply chain. He issued a warning today that a prolonged shutdown of nonessential commerce may result in a wide range of negative health effects. He further states that medical experts are ignoring these potential problems in their efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases.
Mr. Navarro says that the US economy faces a “China shock” which could surpass what it experienced in the early 2000s after China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. He elaborates further that not only did this destroy jobs, but killed tens of thousands of Americans because it increased mortality rates associated with suicide, drug overdoses, alcohol poisoning, liver disease, lung cancer, poor diet and cigarettes. In addition, it destroyed families through higher rates of single-parent households, child poverty and divorce and lower rates of fertility and marriage. To avoid this, Mr. Navarro feels that the economy should reopen as soon as possible. His suggestion as a way to do is to increase testing, especially antibody testing.
However, the ability to do this type of testing or large-scale contact tracing is a long-term goal because we don’t have the supplies needed to do this. The issue with opening the economy too soon poses other risks. For instance, if a second wave occurs, the economy would probably need to be closed again causing even more severe economic pain. Experts say that continued economic disruption that would result from repeated closures, which is likely to happen if social distancing measures are reduced too soon, would be more likely to cause higher despair-induced mortality.
As Mr. Navarro made these claims, President Trump issued a statement during a press conference addressing the fact that several governors announced they were creating regional working groups in effort to have a coordinated response as to far to when areas of the country should reopen. The governors formed two groups with one for the eastern side of the country and the other for the western. President Trump said that the authority to make any decision of that sort is his, not the governors. When pushed on the issue during the press conference, Trump said that there were numerous provisions within the Constitution that gave him that power, but didn’t name any one in particular. As the governors point out, the power to close states down was up to them, so opening them back up is also up to them. Many of the governors made took the position that they were not planning to reopen until experts and data indicated that it is safe to do so.