The Myth of the Lockdown’s Impact on the Economy

The Myth of the Lockdowns Impact on the Economy

Baani Sabharwal, Staff Writer 

The idea that lockdowns actually aid the economy may seem paradoxical, and contrary to everything you have heard. This is likely a function of media conglomerates’ deliberate attempts to monger fear in the viewer, constantly putting forth the terrifying rhetoric of “state-sanctioned lockdowns destroying the economy,” and “breaking down the economic foundation of this nation.” From Day One, President Donald Trump spread word of the devastating horrors lockdowns would do to the economy, refusing to hold a nationwide lockdown because it was “not a viable path forward,” for the survival of the nation, per CNBC.

The fact of the matter is, economic damage was inevitable. Obviously, a pandemic will not stimulate wages, spur trade, or do any of the things that are often advantageous to the economy.  The problem is not whether there will be economic damage — that was already happening before COVID-19.  The real question centers around the extent to which the American economy will weaken. In the early days of quarantine, health officials would talk of “flattening the curve,” or lowering the amount of cases in a short time interval to ease the burden on health facilities. This would have allowed for more effective treatment of patients and decreased the number of deaths before a vaccine was developed. If done effectively, people could return to an almost normal life only a few months after implementation. Take China for example: despite hosting the epicenter of the pandemic, after a little less than two months of lockdown and properly following safety guidelines, their lives began to move towards normalcy. Yes, there are some changes, however –  people are now able to ignore safety guidelines such as social distancing and mask wearing, and go about their daily lives. This is a major point of contention, between pro-lockdown and anti-lockdown individuals.  If China is too controversial, look at our neighbor, Canada. The coronavirus reached Canada roughly around the same time it did the US. After its government strongly advocated for people to stay at home, a request heeded by most citizens, Canadians were able to return to work during the summer with not nearly the number of cases or deaths the US had when it attempted to do the same. An economic return to normalcy was bound to happen, abiding by the mindfulness of health guidelines would catalyze this process for Canadians. Abiding by these guidelines would have likely been beneficial to both the safety of Americans, as well as the state of the US economy. Instead, with the questionable participation in health guidelines and lockdown, a repeated cycle of virus surges and city shutdowns have occurred, as 30 million people lost their jobs and over 300,000 people died.

This pandemic has hurt America’s  income, jobs, and most importantly, our lives. To address  such a tragedy, lockdowns are an unfortunate necessity. This is corroborated by the fact that Sweden’s refusal to put forth lockdowns has resulted in its mounting death toll. What our country needed was strong government action to properly enforce nationwide lockdowns and protect those who bear its burden. However, this did not materialize. Without government action, there needed to be unanimous consent in following lockdown procedures, which also did not happen. Instead, failing to properly lockdown has resulted in the death of over 45,000 workers, and has extended the duration of the virus’s dramatic influence on our lives beyond that of the couple months seen in other countries. If it had been enforced properly, the time spent at home would have decreased, minimizing the economic damage caused. That damage, with a mostly intact and healthy workforce, could have been recovered quickly and life could have returned to some sort of normalcy. Of all the solutions, implementing and properly following lockdown procedures would have helped the economy the most. Achieving a life similar to life prior to the pandemic could have happened. It was not and is not impossible. The United States simply failed. 

An image of anti-lockdown protestors at the Washington State Capital, captured by Ruth Fremson (New York Times)