No Senator Kennedy, Reopening the Economy is not Worth Risking Lives

In an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Thursday, Louisiana US Sen. John Kennedy said mitigation measures that aim to slow the spread of the Coronavirus and save lives are not worth the risk of an economic collapse. “We’ve got to open this economy,” the Senator told Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Imagine that – a pro-life Republican Senator willing to reopen the economy at the risk of your loved ones becoming ill and possibly dying.

The Senator went on to make the point that “trying to burn down a village to save it is foolish,” which is rather misleading considering there are more options to sustain the economy while also containing the spread of a deadly virus.  Reopening the economy will place a strain on medical workers and resources needed to care for and treat patients who become ill from the Coronavirus and other life-threatening diseases.

In addition to offering a false dichotomy between either tearing down our economy by sustaining mitigation measures or saving the economy by reopening it, Sen. Kennedy’s argument is counterintuitive since a significant portion of Louisiana’s workforce falling ill is not conducive to a productive and healthy economy.

As Paul Krugman told MSNBC’s host, Lawrence O’Donnell, the government can enact drastic fiscal stimulus measures to ensure Americans have financial security and a safety net during this pandemic without having to be concerned about the effects of additional government borrowing.  The Nobel-peace prize winning economist said that as long as investors are buying up our debt, which is largely based on long-term prospects of the resiliency of America’s economy, then we should not have to be too concerned about the stimulus package’s effect on the national debt.  He went on to say that the more pressing concern is the economic collapse we will witness if we don’t have significant structural economic changes that provides Americans with the safety net and financial security they need to be able to survive this pandemic.

Paul Krugman is right. Easing mitigation measures is not the answer and will only result in not only causing harm to our public health and safety, but will also threaten the health and sustainability of our economy over the long run.

The Senator’s assertion that mitigation measures only slowed the spread at “enormous costs” is factually incorrect, but facts for Republicans these days have not been their strong suit. They are sycophants to a President who has called this virus a Democratic hoax, and Kennedy’s statement is in line with that belief.

Contrary to Sen. Kennedy’s claim that mitigation measures have only “slowed the spread at enormous cost,” modeling from epidemiologists strongly suggest that if Louisiana, a hotspot for Covid-19, had done nothing, we would have exceeded our medical capacity to treat ill patients by mid-April. This would have resulted in countless more deaths as hospital workers would have to choose who would get to live.

One thing is clear from Sen. Kennedy’s interview – he’s grossly unfit to legislate a public health crisis and make decisions in the best interest of our citizens. Like Trump, Kennedy has shown a blatant disregard for the judgment and advice from public health experts who warn that we could end up with an infection rate of over 70 percent if mitigation measures were not in place.

In contrast to the Senator’s illogical and short-sighted views regarding the seriousness of this pandemic, recent polling suggests that the overwhelming majority of Americans are taking social distancing and other mitigation measures seriously. 83 percent polled are avoiding small gatherings. 78 percent are avoiding public spaces, and an astounding 92 percent are avoiding crowds. So despite the Senator’s ignorance, the public is largely taking stay at home and quarantine measures very seriously.

So Senator, please do us all a favor and stop pushing talking points from a President who believes the virus is a Democratic hoax. Listen to the advice and recommendations of public health experts. Advocate for more testing. Let’s build a world class medical infrastructure to address this pandemic and future pandemics. Understand that without a healthy workforce, we have no economy in any case, and start formulating a plan to ensure that the American people can weather this pandemic financially by supporting legislation that will strengthen social safety nets and guarantee economic security. Our public health and economic security is counting on rational decision-making supported by facts, not falsehoods during this crisis.





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