Nationwide stay-at-home orders have been issued by President Donald Trump as of today, which are stricter than the federal government’s original “15-day pause” guideline that was suggested days earlier. The original guidelines pertained to public gatherings, emphasizing that there should be no more than 10 people congregated together. While most Americans have been voluntarily staying at home, hunkering down, and limiting their daily outings to going to work, the grocery store, pharmacy, and other necessary places, state officials have begun to issue severe restrictions on businesses.
In New York State Thursday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo mandated that all businesses must limit their on-site employees to 50%. By the late afternoon that day, Cuomo had decreased the number of permitted on-site employees to a mere 25%.
The new orders are greatly impacting businesses. While it remains unclear how governmental authorities will enforce the orders, businesses have been rearranging their operations to comply, and for most, this is far easier said than done. Service industries have virtually shut down. Companies that function with Cloud-based operations have managed to reorganize so that their employees can work from home, but the pressing question on American minds persists: how long will this go on?
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has already recommended that the “pause” could—and perhaps should—last longer than 15 days. Frighteningly, this pandemic has risen to the status of National Emergency as of last Thursday, and new federal plans to combat the novel coronavirus presume this crisis could last 18 months or longer as reported cases dramatically increase on a day to day basis.
As of today, there have been 19,781 confirmed cases and 276 deaths in this country alone. The worldwide figures continue to be alarming with 290,717 confirmed cases and 11,974 deaths, but in reality, those numbers could be much higher with unreported cases.
America is fighting more than a contagious virus at this point. We are fighting an unknown future and an important debate has emerged. Should we sacrifice the economic health of our country in favor of the health of our citizens? Historically, our economy has never come to a grinding halt, certainly not due to nationwide voluntary measures. Is it wise to sacrifice the stability of our country’s economy to save lives when the death-rate remains quite low?
Experts from the CDC and health officials aren’t considering the economical ramifications of their recommendations. Why would they? It’s beyond their purview and shouldn’t influence their proposals. There is a massive need to alleviate the radically overwhelmed health care system, which only slowing the spread of the virus can do. Obtaining more hospital beds and ventilators is imperative, even with all the drastic measures we as a country have taken. But from an economic standpoint, the financial famine we are about to face—and currently are—could transform America into an extremely difficult country to economically thrive in once we achieve victory over the novel coronavirus.
President Trump has some very difficult decisions to make. Though he has consistently proven throughout this crisis that he is a wartime president determined to protect the people from the spread of this virus while also preserving as much of the function of our economy as possible, the overnight spike in cases has put our nation in an even tighter bind. Larry Kudlow, economic adviser to the president, told reporters that the new economic emergency package to combat the pandemic could total more than 2 trillion, which is 10% of the GDP, but he wouldn’t elaborate to the press since bipartisan negotiations are ongoing. This preliminary figure was reached after lawmakers spent all Friday and the better part of this morning negotiating a deal, but the final vote won’t take place until Monday, and that’s an ambitious timeline. Republicans and Democrats are still struggling to hammer out the details of the bill’s emergency package due to complicated variables such as addressing unemployment insurance costs and the specific amounts the federal government would directly provide to Americans who have lost their jobs.
While Americans anxiously await Senate resolutions, Christmas lights have begun to appear in neighborhoods across our country, offering a glimmer of optimism in an otherwise fearful time.