Should the lockdown end now?

Has New York overreacted? Is it time to end the strict measures put in place to halt the spread of COVID-19? James Ryan Jr. and Kent Gardner offer different views.

Pandemic and the ‘fog of war’

Jim Ryan Jr. argues that it’s time to restart the economy and end Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York State on PAUSE executive order. In Ryan’s piece for the Beacon, he contends the policy response to COVID-19 has been an overreaction fueled by media sensationalism and politicians’ fear of being perceived as weak or indecisive. 

Kent Gardner

He also finds comfort in a few individuals suggesting that the case fatality rate may be no more than the seasonal flu, about 0.1 percent. Ryan also notes that 61,000 flu deaths in the 2017-18 flu season did not spur such a dramatic response (the Centers for Disease Control estimates the COVID-19 toll in the U.S. as 55,000 as of April 28). Have we overreacted? Should New York’s lockdown end?

It is time to reopen

Just two years ago the flu reared its ugly head, causing over 60,000 deaths and 810,000 hospitalizations across the U.S. In contrast, COVID-19 so far has caused roughly 55,000 deaths and roughly 95,000 hospitalizations. Given the severity of the 2017-2018 flu, one would have expected the country to shutter in fear the way it has for COVID-19, especially given that the last line of defense—a proven vaccine—was significantly stymied by this virus strain. 

Jim Ryan Jr.

But, as we all know, fear and panic did not materialize for this particular flu. Life continued on as normal. Although occasionally mentioned in the press, the outbreak was essentially a non-issue and the public seemed almost uninterested. Instead of the COVID-19 government mandates creating massive unemployment and destroying trillions of dollars of wealth, the economy during this flu season boomed. Businesses prospered and the consumer was king as the interactive retail sector became red hot.

Our challenge going forward

When the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, will we return to our often-siloed ways? Or will we start to build bridges toward a more equitable future?

The regional jobless surge ebbs

New filings in the latest report were sharply lower than each of the previous three weeks—but still more than 1,000 percent higher than a year ago.

The small business lifeline

The region’s lenders have funded hundreds of millions of dollars in coronavirus relief loans, and they are ready to do more—when the federal PPP spigot turns on again.