The past six weeks have been an difficult and trying time. Jobs are being lost, businesses are closing, and the rules seem to change by the day.
A Better Delaware has been committed to advocating for you, your jobs, and your businesses at this time. We have been working to keep Delawareans informed and aware of the ever-changing situation.
Part of this effort has been hosting a recurring livestream series entitled A Better Discussion, where we cover current issues with experts in order to better inform the residents of the First State.
This week, we were pleased to have Dr. Michael Peterson, Chair of the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition at the University of Delaware join us for a candid discussion about the response to COVID-19 and its lasting impact on health and the economy.
Dr. Peterson shared what you won’t hear from many local leaders: much of our response has been ill-advised and more detrimental than the virus itself.
To start, you don’t quarantine the healthy, you quarantine the sick. We overreacted, and the reaction to a situation does not prove the severity of it. In this case, we continue to stand by our initial actions without the hubris to admit we were wrong.
Not only were we wrong in closing our economy, but we were wrong to ignore the unintended consequences of the policies enacted.
He went on to say that economic health is a driving force for individual health, making unemployment a health risk that leads to other detrimental health issues. These include anxiety, depression, opiate use, domestic violence, suicide, and more.
With recent unemployment numbers showing employment down nationally by 20.5M jobs, and an unemployment rate of 14.7%, the lasting impact of the response to the virus may be worse than the coronavirus.
In Delaware, unemployment claims increased 2244.31% from the start of COVID-19 through April.
As for the determination of “essential businesses,” for business owners, their businesses are essential because it is their livelihood. For workers, their jobs are essential because it is how they support themselves and their families, find purpose, and more.
Dr. Peterson was clear that keeping vulnerable populations—such as the chronically ill and the elderly—safe was very important to managing the coronavirus and keeping death tolls low. He believes we could have done this easily without shutting down and forcing people out of work.
As for re-opening, a full opening is likely best. He advocated for businesses to be allowed to do what they do best: adapt, thrive, and weigh risks.
Unfortunately, the damage has been done to the economy and it will take a while to recover. Printing money, shortages, and loss of work/business will have hard impacts on recovery.
Check out the full episode here.