Currently, America is beginning to see signs of civil unrest connected to harsh, and oftentimes unwarranted curtailments of our liberties at the hands of governors and mayors. We’re looking at dramatic stock market losses and skyrocketing unemployment. Most, if not all of this turmoil is unneeded can could be avoided if those leaders who have placed restrictions on people and businesses would do one simple thing– show us a way out. They can do this by providing the people with a road-map out of this nightmare and back to normal(ish) life. It would do a lot to quell the concerns that our liberties, once lost will not be returned. Wall Street, which loathes uncertainty, would reward our nation with stability, if not notable gains.
In my article, What a Recovery Might Look Like, Pt 2, I suggested our elected officials establish plans that open up our economy, safely, over time with objective, quantifiable metrics that once achieved, allow certain portions of our economy to open back up and restore the freedoms of Americans. The White House and the CDC have put forth their guidelines called, Opening Up America Again. The President’s plan imagines three phases based upon two weeks each of declining numbers of cases, reported symptoms, and hospital admissions. Generally, they are congruent with the plan suggested in my article.
Each governor who has initiated some level of lockdown should immediately adopt the White House plan or one of their own. It should have clearly defined metrics that once met consistently over a period of time, automatically trigger the loosening of certain, defined restrictions. To reiterate, these must be objective goals with pre-established metrics, rather than subjective judgments that seem at the whim of the governor. This helps the elected officials also, by effectively removing the decision from what to reopen and when from them and placing it on the data. When the citizens of a state know exactly what the criteria are to return to work and other activities they will have an incentive to maintain voluntarily things like social distancing, and proper hygiene. Businesses large and small will be motivated to maintain and enforce safe work practices, knowing that the sooner those metrics are met, the sooner they can return to business at full-speed and capacity. There would be no need for governors and mayors to act like tyrants and make life needlessly worse for their constituents, as the public and businesses themselves act as the primary reinforcers of coronavirus-safe work and lifestyle behaviors.
As for what metrics our elected officials might use, here are my humble suggestions from the article:
“The metrics should be based upon capacity versus use The number should not be based upon there being zero deaths, as that would put the decision-makers in an impossible position of having to say how many deaths are acceptable. If we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s not the criteria we use for controlling seasonal flu outbreaks. We don’t demand the shutting down a state until there are zero flu deaths in that state. A number to start at might be when ventilators in ICU’s are about twenty-five percent of capacity or their pre-epidemic levels. Since we should still be producing PPE and drug treatments full out, we need to look at how many weeks supply we have. Once we have an on-hand supply of those items equal to the number of weeks at the plateau phase, we can start drawing down and returning companies that have retooled back to making their original products.”
The people need and deserve to know that the restoration of their liberties will be restored in predictable and specific ways in a reasonable amount of time. Our leaders must establish clearly defined, objective, not subjective goals that once achieved automatically allow more and more freedom until virtually all of our pre-epidemic liberties have been restored. Once the public learns that voluntary cooperation in following CDC guidelines for controlling the spread will hasten the day and degree that they can return to something like normal, self-interest rather than fear will drive their behavior.