Re-Opening Amerika

This was the week the Trump administration gave up on fighting the coronavirus pandemic and pivoted to restarting the Economy. Zero states that are reporting infections actually meet the required 14 days of declining cases that was the centerpiece of the previous plan. Instead, as of this week, the NY tri-state region has declining rates, while the rest of the nation is still on the increase.

California’s also running in the rush to reopen, it turns out. LA County amended its public health order starting May 8th. But the LA Times’ daily tracker reports cases continuing to climb. I expect that in 2 weeks from tomorrow, we’ll see new cases start to accelerate again.

LA Times, captured May 7th, 2020.

The IHME model at the University of Washington currently projects 134,475 deaths by August 4th. Today we’re at nearly 77,000 dead. This model has consistently underpredicted, so I’ll go out on not-much-of-a-limb and say 150,000 by August 4. We’re already #1 in deaths worldwide.

It seems to me that the rush to re-open won’t just make things worse for public health. Restaurant reservations fell off a cliff the week before lockdowns started, according to OpenTable reservation data. People stayed home voluntarily. No particular reason to believe enough people will start going out again when the death rate is still climbing. And that’s even worse for the businesses that do try to reopen prematurely. There’s costs to “reopening.”

This April 22, 2020 chart shows the rapid decline during the two weeks after March 3. The California Safer at Home order was release March 17.

Air travel started declining before the lockdowns too, but starting slightly later than the restaurant nose dive.

On the other hand, 30 million people* are now unemployed, so I’m not surprised right-wing politicians are panicking. Their hold on power is their grifting, handouts to the wealthy in exchange for donations and access, and they’re now out of money to give. Instead they’re desperately trying to purge people from the unemployment rolls and cut Medicaid and education. But the Economy isn’t going to suddenly restart because governors, or the Orange Emperor, have said so.

*a little update: 30 million have filed for unemployment, but apparently “only” 20.5 million count as unemployed. The 8 May unemployment report is 14.5%, worst since the Great Depression. One interesting tidbit is that 4 out of 5 people filing were furloughed, not laid off, so there’s a little hope of rapid rehiring. But not much, as I’ve said above.