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COVID-19

A public health strategy to reopen the economy

Kai Ryssdal and Bennett Purser Apr 6, 2020
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Medical professionals work at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site run by George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
COVID-19

A public health strategy to reopen the economy

Kai Ryssdal and Bennett Purser Apr 6, 2020
Medical professionals work at a drive-thru coronavirus testing site run by George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

With more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. everyday, what exactly will it take to reopen the economy?

A new report from the American Enterprise Institute provides a roadmap for navigating the pandemic, starting with a major increase in resources for hospital and public health operations. Co-author Dr. Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at John Hopkins University, spoke with “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal about the public health standards that must be in place before we can lift social distancing.

“Getting people back to work to bring a paycheck home and earn a living is also very important to health and well-being; it’s not just about the virus,” Rivers said. “But then again, this is a pandemic that we’ve never seen before in modern times. So we do need to lead with public health.”

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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