Credit card data and other economic markers (Open Table reservations) during late February and early March demonstrated that Americans pressed “pause” on the economy well before states initiated shut downs and restrictions—demonstrating that a solid percentage of Americans understand the dangers of a global pandemic.
When several states (notably Texas, Arizona, and Florida) reopened early (in late April or early May), against the recommendation of every public health official, virologist, epidemiologist and American with a basic grasp of pandemic logic, the data once again showed that Americans weren’t exactly eager to take the risks associated with a global pandemic. Entertainment and restaurant expenditures have barely recovered.
In late May and early June, the minority of Americans who felt COVID19 no longer posed a threat (younger people and Trump loyalists) “RETURNED TO NORMAL” in the states that opened early, despite never really making a meaningful dent in their new case numbers—landing us where we stand today. With a record number of new infections, and rising case counts in over thirty states.
Reversing the trend that had brought cases down to around 20,000 in mid May—we are now seeing over 40,000 new cases a day across the country. In all truth, May wasn’t exactly a real winning picture (plateau at 20,000 cases with a shallow decline), but nothing like we’re seeing today.
OVER THE NEXT THREE TO FOUR WEEKS, we’ll see hospitalizations skyrocket in several states, followed by a significant rise in deaths. Remember. Taking action today impacts the situation a month from now. What effect will this have on the economy moving forward? The restaurant or small business that was already struggling with a reduced number of patrons during the premature “grand reopening” will now see even fewer patrons willing to take the risk. This is what happens when you don’t reopen safely and slowly….according to the experts.
Let also keep in mind the fact that there doesn’t appear to be any new stimulus money headed for small businesses (the PPP loan program was meant to cover losses incurred from March through May) or American families (how long did $1200 per person last?), that the $600 unemployment bonus runs dry at the end of July (30 million or more Americans are currently unemployed, with more to come when small businesses close), that evictions will no longer be paused in many states and that consumer confidence is already broken, and about to be shattered. A VICIOUS CYCLE WITH NO END IN SIGHT UNTIL WE CRUSH THE PANDEMIC.