Op-Ed: Coronavirus restart – here’s the most compassionate thing to do for workers, their fami

This article originally appeared on Fox News on May 20, 2020.

Testifying before the Senate Health, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned of the potential for “really serious” consequences from renewed coronavirus outbreaks should states reopen prematurely. But, Fauci’s warning applies equally well to the “really serious” consequences of opening too late.

Of course, Fauci is an immunologist focused on the pandemic, not a businessperson or an economist. While it’s important to heed the advice of medical experts, it’s a mistake to ignore the economic costs of their recommendations in terms of both human suffering and death.

As stated by President Trump, we can’t let the COVID-19 “cure be worse than the problem itself.” The severe physical and emotional impact of unemployment on American workers lends credence to the president’s concern.

A recent Federal Reserve Bank survey found that almost 40 percent of people in households making less than $40,000 a year who had jobs in February, lost their jobs in March. Commenting on the survey, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell observed that “[t]his reversal of economic fortune has caused a level of pain that is hard to capture in words, as lives are upended amid great uncertainty about the future.” He makes an important point.

I still recall being a 25-year-old in 1975 supporting a wife and two children, finishing college, and preparing to enter law school. The economic and emotional pressures were intense, alleviated only by the fact that I had a job, could feed my family, and pay our rent and utilities while looking forward to a better life. A sudden government shutdown that resulted in me losing my job and having to face the prospect of being unable to feed or house my young family, let alone complete my education, would have been devastating.

It’s hard to even imagine sitting home day after day for weeks – maybe months – with those I loved, able to work but prohibited from doing so, our only source of income a government check. I certainly would have appreciated that check, but government largesse is a meager substitute for the dignity of a job, the security of a paycheck and the opportunity to succeed.

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