The Costs of an Extended Covid-19 Pandemic

Popular Economics Weekly

COVID Tracking Project

I have been asked many times about my thoughts on the direction of our fall and winter economies, but been hesitant to give specific answers because firstly, it depends on the November election.

Republican economics have been a disaster, from the multiple trade wars that shrank world trade, even before the coronavirus pandemic did further harm, and the 2017 corporate tax cuts that haven’t fulfilled any of their promises, just given corporations the excess profits to overinflate stock and bond prices while adding $trillions to the national debt.

And secondly, it depends on the pandemic’s outcome, which also depends on the November election, since Trump and his red state Republicans now actively oppose almost all scientific remedies for bringing down the infection and death rates—such as a national mask mandate—in their haste to open the economy before November.

We are now beginning to have a reckoning of the stunning disregard for human life by the Trump administration and Republican Party as we enter the fall season of colder weather when viruses thrive and the COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have now reached 200,000.

Calculated Risk

The Covid Tracking Project reports that more than 40,000 Americans per day are now infected with the virus, up from 20,000 at its low point in June, as virus testing has risen to almost one million per day with newly available testing procedures.

So the question has to be why such a stunning disregard for the well-being of Americans during the worst natural disaster to hit the world since the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, and which now has killed more Americans (200,000) than all the world wars of the past century?

Top that with Trump administration attempts to have the Supreme Court repeal Obamacare that protects Americans with existing illnesses, which would affect more than 20 million Americans’ healthcare, thus allowing insurance companies to once again deny treatment for any after effects of COVID-19 illnesses that would be deemed a pre-existing condition.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump last week contradicted comments made by his administration’s health experts regarding the timing of when a vaccine might be available, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had to reverse course on new testing guidelines after the New York Times reported that the new guidelines were actually written by the Trump administration and not CDC scientists.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Bob Woodward in his new book, Rage, on March 19, even as he had declared a national emergency over the virus days earlier. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

If instead of playing down what he knew, Trump had acted decisively in early February with a strict shutdown and a consistent message to wear masks, social distance and wash hands, experts believe that thousands of American lives could have been saved, maybe preventing an inevitable repeat of the 1918 horrors that should never be repeated.

The direction of our economy and who it benefits really boils down to the results of the November election, unfortunately. The most egregious cost to Americans has been the needless suffering caused by Republicans’ support of President Trump’s policies.

He has become the “useful idiot” also threatening our national security interests, in the words of Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, a decorated Marine veteran and former National Security Council analyst and Russian specialist, who is willing to parrot any message that will keep him in power

The populist counterrevolution espoused by the Trump Party has so weakened American values and institutions that actual law-breaking is now considered a new normal, race-baiting and the scapegoating of minorities official government policies.

These costs are no longer bearable, in part because I and many economist see very dark days ahead until and unless the Republican Party is forced to change its ways, and why would that happen unless they are prevented from causing further harm this November?

Harlan Green © 2020

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About populareconomicsblog

Harlan Green is editor/publisher of, and content provider of 3 weekly columns to various blogs--Popular Economics Weekly and The Huffington Post
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