When the Spanish flu ravaged the world in 1918, it came in three waves. For Americans, the second wave was the deadliest.
Certainly, times were different, and troop movements associated with World War I didn’t help. But still, it’s wise to consider the history of the Spanish flu as protesters urge Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum to “reopen” their states.
As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the U.S., most of the nation’s businesses have essentially shut down, crippling the economy. That historic slowing of business is a harsh and undeniable fact.
We are pro-business and also want the country to return to work. But, based on the opinion of many experts in the medical field, it’s just too soon.
There are still too many who say the coronavirus curve has not yet flattened enough – among them Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s chief infectious disease expert.
“I’ll guarantee you,” he said to The Associated Press, “once you start pulling back there will be infections.”
More infections will increasingly cripple the economy, especially if numbers rise and another shutdown is needed. It also could further clog the nation’s medical infrastructure.
There have been more than 787,000 cases of coronavirus in the United States, leading to more than 42,000 deaths. As of Tuesday, April, 21, Minnesota has had 2,567 cases and 160 deaths, and in North Dakota, 644 cases and 13 deaths.
Meanwhile, there are still too many uncertainties in Greater Grand Forks. LM Wind Power, with nearly 900 employees, has been a statewide hotspot for coronavirus cases, and results of widespread testing are still coming in. We don’t yet know for sure how many positive cases there are in the region.
Further, we aren’t convinced that opening, at least now, is the best option for all businesses. The places that rely on customer traffic could continue to see decreased patronage as many potential customers will be fearful of being around others. The revenue of businesses that open too early may not cover the overhead.
And, most important, more people could get sick.
Somewhere, there is middle ground that must be found. While we don’t believe returning to work in the coming days is wise, we also are hopeful that in two or three weeks, it will be safe to begin phasing normalcy back into our lives.
Medical professionals are calling for a slow return. And a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey shows that 58% of registered voters believe the U.S. is moving too quickly toward loosening restrictions.
Unequivocally, these restrictions are harming the economy. We feel it ourselves.
Yet returning too quickly just isn’t the right thing to do. The economy cannot recover if more Americans get sick.