America is in the midst of an unprecedented shutdown, and the conservative editorial board of the Wall Street Journal thinks it's a wise and necessary move. Provided it doesn't last too long. "If this government-ordered shutdown continues for much more than another week or two, the human cost of job losses and bankruptcies will exceed what most Americans imagine," declares the editorial. It suggests that US and federal officials begin to adjust the strategy after 14 days to avoid economic catastrophe. "That should be the moment, if not sooner, to offer new guidance on what might be called phase two of the coronavirus pandemic campaign." The editorial acknowledges that safety measures to protect the most vulnerable, such as social distancing, will be with us for the foreseeable future.
"But no society can safeguard public health for long at the cost of its overall economic health," it states. "Even America's resources to fight a viral plague aren't limitless—and they will become more limited by the day as individuals lose jobs, businesses close, and American prosperity gives way to poverty." Yes, China seems to have to withstood the worst of the economic shock and is moving toward recovery. But remember that "the Chinese state owns an enormous stake in that economy and chose to absorb the losses." In America, that pain would be borne by private businesses and workers. In short, "America urgently needs a pandemic strategy that is more economically and socially sustainable than the current national lockdown," the editors write. (Read the full editorial.)