Those saying we had to sacrifice the economy to save lives have succeeded in only the former, The Wall Street Journal writes in a scathing rebuke of lockdowns at all costs amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
"The tradeoff isn't between lives and livelihoods," the Journal editorial board concluded. "The policy goal has to be to protect both as much as possible.
"Deploy more personal protective equipment, greatly increase testing, build surge capability to handle flare-ups, and isolate society's most vulnerable to keep hospitals from getting overwhelmed.
"But for heaven's sake reopen the economy so we don't consign millions to years of poverty."
The op-ed was in response to those denouncing a past call back on March 19, "Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown," when the shutdowns were only beginning.
"Well, after Friday's horrific jobs report, how do you like the shutdown now?" the Journal wrote. "The people who said we have to sacrifice the economy to crush the virus have succeeded in the former even as the virus will be with us for many more months or longer."
April's unemployment rate showed 14.7% of Americans out of work, the highest rate in record U.S. history, until 6.4 million workers were added to the unemployment line.
"Much of the media continue to treat the economic destruction as a sideshow and present a false choice between saving lives and jobs," the board wrote. "But this is the fastest jobs collapse in modern history. The Great Depression drove millions of Americans into poverty and caused many suicides, and there's a substantial risk this could happen again."
And, most notably, even hospitals are cutting essential frontline workers, as elective surgeries have put healthcare facilities on life support.
"Congress has appropriated $175 billion to shore up hospitals, but this won't help small physician practices much," the board wrote. "Many healthcare providers warn they may not survive if their privately insured patients lose jobs and sign up for Medicaid, which doesn't cover their costs."
The board even rebuked Democrats' plan to keep paying Americans' unemployment indefinitely, until a vaccine that may or may not come.
"The crowd that demands the economy remain locked-down until there's a vaccine, miracle therapy or daily testing of everyone in the country seem to think the government can replace the private economy," the board wrote. "That's a fantasy, and they are betraying the very low- and middle-income workers they claim to represent. Average wages in April rose sharply because so many low-income workers were laid off."
The Journal went as far as sharing President Donald Trump's mantra, "Americans need to work to make a living, and they want to work," even amid the desire to "blame President Trump for the economic pain."
"It is important to stress that the strict lockdowns were a government policy choice," the board wrote. "But the damage is done, and our focus isn't on recriminations. The issue is what to do now, and the public is wise enough to know that public health can't be sustained without a healthy economy.
"Americans can see the destruction all around them. They know the virus will be with us for a long time unless there's a vaccine, so we have to learn to live with it and have a functioning economy."
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