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Economists warn ending social distancing too soon would only hurt the economy

Economists warn ending social distancing too soon would only hurt the economy

Editorial Desk
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Every time Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has addressed the public and media about coronavirus, he’s made it very clear that he doesn’t really believes in strict lockdown or in a countrywide lockdown for a longer period of time.

But according to a new poll of leading economists from the University of Chicago’s Booth School, there is little support among experts for the idea that officials must choose between saving lives through continued social distancing and saving the economy by ending the practice. Instead, the overwhelming majority of the economists they surveyed warn that “abandoning severe lockdowns at a time when the likelihood of a resurgence in infections remains high will lead to greater total economic damage” than keeping the lockdowns in place and riding things out.

Of course, that the Chicago poll says this doesn’t make it true. But it’s worth underscoring that there is no evidence of a disjuncture in views between what public health experts think and what economic policy experts think.

There is broad agreement among economists that there is no economic gain to be had by opening up businesses if that allows the virus to overwhelm health care system capacity in the way we’ve already seen in Wuhan, Lombardy, Madrid, and now New York. The only real question is whether we have an adequate handle on exactly where the line is between extreme social distancing and allowing business to continue as normal.

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