The New York Times editorial board has urged President Trump to immediately call for a two-week shelter-in-place order nationwide “to protect Americans and their livelihoods” amid the coronavirus pandemic. If Trump doesn’t act decisively — and now — “devastating loss of life and prolonged, widespread economic pain” could be ahead, the board warned.
In the op-ed, published Tuesday, the board said the worst of the virus crisis had yet to hit the United States — and stressed that Trump’s desire to open the country’s economy by Easter, which falls on April 12 this year, was short-sighted.
“Everyone shares Mr. Trump’s concern for the economy. But this is not a moment for mere salesmanship, for conjuring a cheerful vision rather than facing reality. It’s a moment for providing a plan,” the board wrote.
“This crisis has not turned a corner — it hasn’t even hit yet,” it added.
Citing healthcare experts and scientists, the board suggested the best course of action for Trump would be to press the country’s governors to issue stay-in-place orders for at least two weeks in their respective states — effective immediately. So far, fewer than 20 states have issued such restrictions.
If Trump does call for a national lockdown and governors follow his request, then “there will be time to debate how soon some controls might be lifted, or how soon certain people, like those under a particular age, might be free to resume something like normal life,” the board wrote. “There will be more time then to develop palliative treatments, and more time for the federal government to order up the test kits and ventilators needed nationwide.”
But if the U.S. fails to “flatten the curve,” the board warned — in other words, not staggering the number of new cases over a longer period of time and thus overwhelming the healthcare system — researchers have suggested that more than 2 million lives could be lost in the U.S. to the virus.
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