Economists have a way of measuring the cost of protecting people from COVID-19.
Economists have done the math.
The staggering economic toll of the new coronavirus is becoming abundantly, unavoidably clear. On Thursday, a Department of Labor report showed that a record-shattering 3.3 million people applied for initial unemployment claims last week. And with entire industries shuttered for the foreseeable future, economic output will almost certainly shrink dramatically.
As economic forecasts grow darker, talk of tradeoffs is getting louder: Is protecting Americans from COVID-19 really worth all this disruption and economic pain?
On March 22, before President Trump floated the idea of reopening the economy by Easter, against the recommendations of his own public health experts, he tweeted, “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF.” Other politicians, meanwhile, rejected the idea that economic costs should be a factor at all. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo dismissed Trump’s push to get the economy moving again, saying, “No American is going to say, ‘accelerate the economy at the cost of human life.’ Because no American is going to say how much a life is worth.”