Pro: Saving Lives Above All Else
In the past few weeks, thousands have gathered across the United States, toting signs like "Freedom or Death" to protest lockdown orders as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the past few weeks, thousands have gathered across the United States, toting signs like "Freedom or Death" to protest lockdown orders as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Some have expressed legitimate concerns over skyrocketing unemployment rates and access to essential supplies. Yet many more simply hope to return to "regular life" for convenience's sake. These demonstrators argue that not only is the virus not as deadly as the government claims, but that the stay-at-home order is an infringement on personal rights.
However, regardless of how upsetting COVID-19's interference is on daily plans, it is not an excuse for people to endanger others' health by resisting quarantine.
The lockdown is an absolutely necessary and effective method of preventing the spread of COVID-19, which, according to the existing models and studies, appears to be nearly 10 times as deadly as the seasonal flu. According to a report published by the Imperial College of London, without implementing strategies like lockdowns to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, there would have been seven billion infections and 40 million deaths in 2020 alone, overwhelming the U.S. healthcare system. This is due to a combination of COVID-19's lengthy incubation period and high infection rate-an infected person can unknowingly spread the disease for a longer period of time. As this is an entirely new disease, there is no natural immunity and no vaccine, increasing the chances of contracting the virus and spreading it.
In times such as these, we can look to other countries like Taiwan and South Korea which have been praised as model nations against the virus. While their quarantine regulations have been strict, their success is clear proof of a lockdown's functionality. In contrast to the U.S., where death counts are numbered in the tens of thousands despite the White House's repeated downplay of the virus, Taiwan has taken active measures to contain the virus with the full support of its people, resulting in only six deaths out of the population of 23 million. Furthermore, thanks to these lockdown measures, these countries have been able to return to a higher degree of normalcy than the rest of the world. South Korea has planned to resume classes due to confidence in their containment and tracing abilities. Amazingly, schooling, offices, and restaurants have resumed normal operations in Taiwan with minimal risk of additional cases. These countries' actions reveal that if done correctly, lockdowns aid in a swift economic recovery rather than hinder it.
From the market's perspective, the U.S. and much of the rest of the global community has experienced a severe economic decline. In late March, President Donald Trump himself tweeted, "We can not let the cure be worse than the problem itself," hinting at the reassessments of restrictions. His statement could not be any less disturbing, especially when it is already a common reaction. The notion that American deaths are the lesser of two evils in comparison to the tanking economy is inconsiderate to hundreds of thousands of Americans susceptible to COVID-19 as well as their family members. Moreover, the argument that a possible economic recession may lead to more suffering and deaths in the long-run is an over-exaggeration of how unemployment is hurting individuals. By allowing citizens to return to their daily lives, the government would be jeopardizing the lives of many Americans who would be otherwise safe if the lockdown was in place. Ultimately, prioritizing the economy over quarantine would impose a greater negative impact on the country, because there are many possible ways to maintain people's livelihoods financially, but a lockdown is the only plausible means to halt the spread of the virus.
Recently, such measures to address unemployment have begun to transpire, as growing concerns over the economy increase. The Internet has made it possible for the majority of white-collar Americans to do their work safely from home, thus maintaining their jobs. As for blue-collar workers, the U.S. economic relief package has been notoriously unable to aid a number of paycheck-to-paycheck workers and struggling businesses, many of which did not properly receive packages. In other countries like Denmark, however, their governments have been directly paying businesses to maintain their payrolls to their employees to avoid the mass layoffs similar to those occurring in the U.S. The Danish government has recently told private companies that it would pay 75 percent of their employees' salaries, and although aggressive, it could be the solution to preventing another Great Depression for the U.S. After all, allowing large companies to go bankrupt and employees' private expenditures to be ruined would take far longer to recover. Furthermore, this would protect the livelihoods of blue-collar workers without needing a cessation of the lockdown and prepare the nation for a full economic recovery in the future.
Moreover, even if our government decided to go through with ending the lockdown, without a healthy population, there simply will not be a healthy economy. Behind the American economy is an intricate system of employers and employees working around the clock, and the virus adds several variables to the economic equation - how could companies prosper with the majority of its workforce either sick themselves or attending unwell family members? With the government busy keeping the swamped healthcare system afloat, how can it focus its resources on anything else?
Now more than ever, we need Congress to guide this nation back from this catastrophic pandemic. An immediate lockdown would only lead to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, overwhelming hospitals. We, as a collective community, need to continue with isolation measures in order to keep the daily number of disease cases at a manageable level for medical personnel. As for those struggling to maintain their income, our government should learn from other succeeding nations and play a stronger role in maintaining citizens' livelihoods. It's not too late to implement new policies to help the economy, prevent long-term issues, and guide the U.S. towards normalcy. Consequently, the lockdown remains our best solution.