Last week, Bloomberg reported that for the third straight week in a row, record numbers of unemployed Americans had filed for benefits. The jobless number has climbed so high in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, that the total unemployment rate is now approaching 15 percent of the total U.S. workforce – a terrifying number that eclipses even the 10 percent reached at the peak of the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009.
Understandably, millions of desperate Americans are waiting with bated breath for the strict lockdowns to be rolled back so that they can get back to work before they, too, lose their jobs.
The stark reality, however, is that fully reopening the economy in the immediate future is simply not feasible. If the lockdowns are reversed across the country before the right steps have been put in place to deal with the coronavirus pandemic – including the rollout of sufficient testing and other necessary measures – another wave of infections could be unleashed, and the economy could be impacted even more negatively.
And at least one expert believes that Americans may have to cope with the reality of having to face 18 months of rolling shutdowns. (Related: Bankruptcies, unemployment ‘imminent’ as coronavirus continues to batter the US.)
As reported by MSN Money, Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, has warned that unless an effective treatment or vaccine can be found for the coronavirus, it is likely that the U.S. economy will have to deal with many months of rolling shutdowns as the country deals with repeated disease flareups.
“We’re looking around the world,” Kashkari told CBS’s Face the Nation. “As they relax the economic controls, the virus flares back up again.
“We could have these waves of flareups, controls, flareups and controls until we actually get a therapy or a vaccine,” he added. “I think we should all be focusing on an 18-month strategy for our health care system and our economy.”
While Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and one of President Trump’s chief advisers on the coronavirus, has indicated that some parts of the economy could be reopened in May, he has warned that the disease could flare up again in the Fall.
And public health experts and state governors alike have repeatedly warned President Trump that people will not be able to return to work until coronavirus testing is seriously ramped up.
In the meantime, the government has pulled out all the stops to try to reduce joblessness and help Americans cope with the greatest international disaster to strike humanity in decades. (Related: Brace yourself for social unrest stemming from coronavirus-related unemployment and shutdowns.)
MSN Money reported:
The U.S. central bank has responded aggressively to blunt the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. economy, launching an unprecedented range of emergency programs to support as much as $2.3 trillion in loans and slashing interest rates to nearly zero.
And the Fed has the potential to do even more.
Cleveland Fed chief Loretta Mester noted that the Fed is “likely not done,” and will continue to actively seek out additional ways to keep credit flowing through the economy.
“We’re always looking for things where if we have a tool to be able to do it, and if we think it’s needed, we’re going to do it,” she said.
But will it be enough? And how long will the average American be able to cope with these restrictive lockdowns? Do we have another 18 months left in us? Only time will tell.
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Sources for this article include: