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COVID-19

What are states looking at as they start planning to lift COVID-19 lockdowns?

Meghan McCarty Carino Apr 15, 2020
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"This can’t be a permanent state, and I want you to know it’s not. It will not be a permanent state," California Gov. Gavin Newsom said of the shutdowns. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
COVID-19

What are states looking at as they start planning to lift COVID-19 lockdowns?

Meghan McCarty Carino Apr 15, 2020
"This can’t be a permanent state, and I want you to know it’s not. It will not be a permanent state," California Gov. Gavin Newsom said of the shutdowns. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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Coalitions of governors on both coasts are beginning to draw up plans to lift stay-at-home orders and gradually reopen their economies. On the East Coast, the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are coordinating. In the West, California, Oregon and Washington have joined together and outlined a path forward.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, acknowledged that the shutdowns will have to end at some point.

“This can’t be a permanent state, and I want you to know it’s not. It will not be a permanent state,” Newsom said at a news conference Tuesday.

He and leaders from other states will be watching several key indicators to determine when and how much life can begin to go back to normal.

“What we really want to avoid is that resurgence of disease which could very easily happen if we don’t keep shelter in place going,” said Erin Mordecai, a biology professor at Stanford University.

She says that in order to reopen, we’ll need to be able to test and trace those infected with the virus so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed, and to respond when conditions change.

What businesses might start to come back? Construction and manufacturing would probably be among the first, says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

“They’re in many cases tied up with national security and just keeping the supply chain open,” Zandi said.

But reopening businesses where people socialize might depend on whether they can create safe spaces. Of course, that’s if people feel comfortable enough to go out at all.

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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