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Americans hold the key to reopening the economy

Gary Cohn, former economic adviser to President Trump, said getting money to small business owners has moved from a legislation problem, as the money is allocated, to an execution problem.

Posted: Apr 15, 2020 7:51 AM
Updated: Apr 15, 2020 7:51 AM

The way the president tells it, the American economy is like a light switch that he can simply flip on. He floated a full "beautiful" reopening by Easter Sunday. And when that deadline passed, he teased a "big bang" reopening at his discretion. He (falsely) says he has "total authority" to reopen the economy.

Governors of some of the biggest states have a different idea.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he will not reopen New York's economy if it puts his citizens at risk. And he describes reopening more like a dial, not a switch, slowly moving from 1 to 10, in coordination with other states.

Welcome to the "reopening-speculation" phase of the coronavirus curve. A month into social distancing, work from home and mass layoffs, politicians, citizens and business leaders are searching for the way forward.

A dial is probably a better metaphor than a light switch, and Trump doesn't hold either. He can ease CDC social distancing guidelines. He can mandate mask wearing. But it is the mayors and governors who can dial open schools, business, parks and recreation.

In fact, American citizens are the ultimate authority on reopening. Consumers make up 70% of the US economy and no amount of boasting in front of a camera or announcing America is back in business will turn the economy if Americans don't believe it.

CNN polling last week found 60% of Americans said they are not comfortable returning to their regular routines if social distancing were lifted after April 30.

Economist Justin Wolfers warns of "private lockdown" taking hold, if the economy is re-opened without a credible plan.

He noted that the president's new Council to Reopen America does not have a single economist or public health expert.

"Without credibility, proclamations that it is safe won't work, and a private lockdown will replace the government-mandated one," he tweeted. "If that happens, the recession will needlessly drag on. As the government throws away its credibility, it destroys its ability to prevent an ongoing downturn."

A false start in the economy could be devastating for consumer confidence. If people don't believe they are safe, they won't spend.

If people are scared to go to the movies, they are not going to buy theater tickets. If workers remain fearful that they could get sick by going to work, that could force management to limit the number of workers -- and customers -- in stores, holding back sales.

Consumers hold the key, but leadership matters now more than ever. Citizens need to know that they there is a national plan for their health and their prosperity. That they are safe from the virus, that there is adequate testing to detect it, contact tracing, a vaccine in the works, ways to test for antibodies to send some people safely back to work and a safety net for workers on the frontlines.

Many economists say even as new cases and deaths from the virus are falling, US testing is still inadequate.

"The US is not doing enough testing," says Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. "The country can't safely re-open as long as this persists."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 50300

Reported Deaths: 2748
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11920692
Lake5432248
Elkhart347058
Allen2902133
St. Joseph205169
Hamilton1665101
Cass16449
Hendricks1446100
Johnson1325118
Porter80238
Tippecanoe7599
Clark68144
Vanderburgh6816
Madison67264
LaPorte60527
Howard59458
Bartholomew59345
Kosciusko5704
Marshall5308
Noble50128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4783
Boone47444
Delaware46952
Hancock46036
Shelby43525
Floyd40444
Morgan33631
Monroe32928
Grant30926
Dubois2976
Henry29717
Montgomery29720
Clinton2893
White26810
Decatur25532
Dearborn25423
Lawrence25225
Vigo2478
Warrick24329
Harrison21722
Greene19332
Miami1922
Jennings17912
Putnam1728
DeKalb1674
Scott1639
Wayne1536
Daviess15017
Perry1459
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1332
Franklin1278
Ripley1277
Wabash1152
Carroll1132
Gibson1132
Fayette1057
Whitley1045
Newton10010
Starke983
Huntington932
Randolph794
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington681
Knox670
Clay665
Pulaski661
Rush613
Posey550
Owen521
Benton510
Spencer501
Adams491
Sullivan471
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Tipton321
Switzerland300
Martin240
Parke230
Ohio220
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62856

Reported Deaths: 3032
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11433443
Cuyahoga8786393
Hamilton6563207
Lucas2889305
Marion274039
Montgomery237835
Summit2299209
Pickaway221641
Mahoning1907239
Butler176747
Columbiana135060
Stark1196114
Lorain109769
Trumbull103277
Warren94525
Clark79310
Delaware67515
Fairfield64317
Tuscarawas60110
Lake57022
Belmont56722
Medina56632
Licking56012
Miami50331
Portage48759
Wood47451
Clermont4537
Ashtabula44544
Geauga42543
Wayne37253
Richland3635
Allen34841
Greene3229
Mercer29510
Erie26722
Holmes2575
Darke25326
Huron2382
Madison2139
Ottawa16624
Sandusky15715
Washington14420
Coshocton1413
Ross1393
Crawford1385
Putnam13415
Hardin12312
Morrow1211
Athens1111
Auglaize1094
Jefferson1052
Muskingum961
Union931
Monroe8917
Hancock851
Lawrence820
Preble821
Hocking809
Clinton791
Guernsey793
Shelby744
Williams742
Logan681
Fulton660
Scioto650
Carroll643
Ashland632
Wyandot625
Brown601
Fayette550
Defiance533
Knox531
Champaign511
Highland491
Van Wert451
Perry411
Seneca402
Henry330
Paulding280
Jackson270
Pike270
Adams251
Vinton232
Gallia201
Noble130
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan120
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
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Angola
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 73°
Huntington
74° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 74°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Van Wert
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Breezy, Sunny Saturday
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