Even as the state prepares for the complex task of restarting a virus-ridden economy, we are weighing the cost to keep nonessential businesses closed and the cost of human lives if reopening unfolds too quickly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.
Economic debilitation versus human tragedy. It’s not much of a choice.
It’s also an agonizing decision, given forecasts of businesses wiped out and economic ruin as the order of the day, coupled with predictions of thousands more deaths from COVID-19.
Cuomo acknowledged as much Tuesday when he said, “To me, I say the cost of a human — a human life — is priceless, period. Our reopening plan doesn’t have a trade-off. Our reopening plan says you monitor the data, you monitor the transmission rate, you monitor the hospitalization rate, you monitor the death rate. If it goes up, you have a circuit breaker, you stop. It is a conversation that we should have openly...a hard conversation, painful conversation, controversial conversation, yes, all of the above, but, it’s also the right conversation because those are the decisions we’re making.”
As if to confirm the governor’s words, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model projects 134,475 Americans will die from COVID-19 by Aug. 4 — more than double the research center’s April 17 estimate of 60,308 American deaths. The model projected 60,415 deaths April 7.
We have to take these predictions seriously and presume them to be facts until the state is ready to phase in reopening, because no matter what shape the economy is in when we get through this ordeal, patience is an absolute necessity. If we’re dead, the economy won’t mean anything.