Trump says he won't close the country even if there is a second wave of Covid-19: 'We can put out the fires'
US President Trump said he will not shut the country down if the virus strikes again and triggers a second wave of coronavirus infections. “We can put out the fires. Whether it is an ember or a flame, we are going to put it out. But we are not closing our country," Trump is reported to have said during a tour of a Ford factory in Michigan.
With all 50 states reopening in some form now, experts are worried that such hasty measures may ignite the second wave. A recent study suggested that without stay-at-home orders and other social distancing measures, the number of infections in the country would have reached 35 million. "We really are playing with fire here in a very broad sense. Just because it hasn’t been a catastrophe yet in your state, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the potential to be," Charles Courtemanche, an economist at the University of Kentucky, told The New York Times.
But the economy has taken a beating. The possibility of secondary outbreaks of the virus may make businesses reluctant to engage in new projects, rehire workers, or make new capital expenditures, the Federal Reserve officials discussed during a meeting. And the economy is not alone. Americans are also growing tired of staying indoors, with cellphone data suggesting that people are stepping out more often now than before. Social isolation is taking a toll on physical and mental health, prompting experts to look for a middle ground solution: harm reduction.
What is harm reduction?
The strategy allows people to co-exist with the virus while also limiting harm. In other words, it is a middle-ground between staying home indefinitely and getting back to business, Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard, told Vox. "Up until now, we have had an all-or-nothing approach where we have been telling people to stay home -- which is what we needed to do for the first couple of months," Marcus said during CNN's town hall on the coronavirus. "Then we realized that this is something that we have to do for many months, if not years, so we have to find a way to do this sustainably," she added.
Staying at home is the safest option, until a vaccine or effective treatment becomes available, according to experts. But if people have to go out, they can do so sustainably, Marcus explains. For instance, encouraging people to go out as long as they wear masks and stay six feet apart can reduce the risk of transmission, explains Marcus. The advice stems from recent data that suggest the risk of contracting and spreading the disease is higher in indoor and confined spaces than the outdoors.
A recent poll shows that most Americans think it could take at least six months for life to bounce back to normal conditions. About 75% of them fear the second wave of infections. "The overwhelming majority feel we're in no way out of the woods," Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, told NPR. "The notion that there's the potential or likelihood of a second wave is strong, and we see that clearly across party lines."