Should California Reopen Its Economy? No!

by Rameysh Ramdas

The most fundamental duty and obligation of a government is to safeguard its citizens and ensure their safety. President Trump and some Republican Governors are ignoring the advice of experts and urging the end of the shelter in place, reopening public places. This is a grave mistake. 

During the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the second and third waves reportedly killed upwards of 20 million people – all because the Government decided to open up the economy after just a month of shutdown. 

While the economic impacts of the shutdown are devastating, the economy cannot and should not be prematurely opened due to economic concerns. Dr. Tom Inglesby, Director of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and others such as Professor Leonard Fleck of Michigan State University, has cautioned that we risk an even larger wave of infections if we rush to normalcy too soon. President Trump and lawmakers across the country should listen to these wise words of caution. 

Gavin Newsom permitted a Phase 2 reopening starting May 18, 2020 in California, with varying levels of restrictions on specific counties. Santa Clara, one of the last counties to join the order, was burdened by slower economic growth if they resumed stricter shelter in place orders. Clearly, health professionals are still apprehensive about the new rules. 

Let us wait until there is a complete elimination of new infections or the widespread availability of a vaccine before we resume our normal lives. 

Rameysh Ramdas, a resident of the SF Bay Area, has a keen interest in Politics and Current Events. 

This article is part of the monthly Forum Series, where you get eyes on both sides of a hot button issue.


Should California Reopen Its Economy? Yes!

by Mani Subramani

There are many unknowns with respect to Covid-19.  We don’t know when we will have a vaccine.  We don’t know when we will have an effective cure or when we will have widespread testing.  Yet we know several important facts. Covid-19 is NOT like the flu.  It spreads much faster and is much more deadly.  The death rate in the US is approaching 5.7% of the people who tested positive compared to the Flu which is around 0.1%.  

Based on what we know today, the only way to protect lives is to avoid or significantly minimize transmission. As of today this goal has been achieved by excellent planning, anticipation, consistent communication, and early adoption of the Shelter In Place order in California.  We have been able to maintain adequate spare ICU capacity over the past few months.  This has resulted in a much lower death rate in California in comparison to New York. Countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, and Taiwan have implemented an effective strategy based on testing, quarantine, and tracing. 

There is widespread support for the measures adopted by the state. However, it is completely unsustainable. This virus is expected to be around for a very long time. Maintaining current levels of economic disruption can be devastating to the economy and cause a collapse of small businesses, communities, and maybe even cause social unrest.  

It is estimated that 50-60% of all small businesses are on the verge of failure, Heather Knight writes. Small businesses are just not able to receive any help from the small business protection program. She estimates that San Francisco alone could lose unto 1.6 B in tax revenues in the next two years due to small business failures.  Less than 10% of small businesses were helped by the first round of funding and the second round of $350B offers little hope for small business owners. This should come as no surprise given the ineptness of this administration. 

Governor Newsom and the local officials deserve all the credit for monitoring and getting the disease under control this past two months.  They have begun a slow process for reopening which began May 18. But the time has come to go to the next stage and provide guidelines, rules and recommend appropriate PPE to ALL businesses, so they can open. Yes ALL businesses including hair salons, restaurants, ballparks, and movie theaters to open.  

California, let’s lead the way and open with all deliberate haste.

Mani Subramani is a veteran of the semiconductor equipment industry.  He enjoys following politics and economics.

This article is part of the monthly Forum Series, where you get eyes on both sides of a hot button issue.

This article was also published under Should California Reopen Its Economy? Yes!

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