The staggering economic consequences of the social distancing edicts adopted across most of the nation last month have led to a vigorous debate over whether, to use President Donald Trump’s term, the “cure” for the coronavirus pandemic is worse than the virus itself.
With more than 16 million Americans seeking unemployment benefits after losing their jobs in recent weeks, the argument is worth having. The groans were loud and on point when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared last month that if “everything” state government did saved “just one life,” the edicts would be worth it. Nearly 1 million New Yorkers have filed for unemployment since nonessential businesses were shuttered to slow the virus’ spread. Increasingly, skeptics note the harsh health toll of economic anxiety, including its role in increasing suicide. If Cuomo’s standard is the norm, how could any state allow motorcycles? Skydiving? Cliff climbing?
By Monday, announcements by Trump and two of his frequent adversaries — Cuomo and California Gov. Gavin Newsom — made clear that they are all eager to end the restrictions and accept some risk by limiting social distancing before too long. California, Oregon and Washington will sync their efforts. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are coordinating their responses as well.
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