PA Economist Claims Shut Down Leads to Faster Re-opening

Among business services most missed during the pandemic? Hair designers and barbers (at top)

By Andrea Sears, Public News Service
For The Post Publications

HARRISBURG PA – A Pennsylvania economist argues that Gov. Tom Wolf’s continuing coronavirus disaster declaration may be the fastest way to get the state economy going again … despite the laments of his political opponents.

The state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday (July 1, 2020) that the General Assembly cannot force the governor to allow businesses to reopen by passing a resolution. Legislators say the lockdown is costing businesses too much money, and too many people have lost jobs.

Marc Stier, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, says the easiest way to see the benefit of stay-at-home orders and business closures is to watch what’s happening in states that reopened too early. “In the South and Southwest, COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly,” says Stier. “And while deaths haven’t risen yet, we always know that they’re about two weeks away.”

He says a recent study shows the shutdown has prevented 2.4 million COVID-19 cases and 131,000 additional deaths in the Commonwealth. With new cases rising again in Pennsylvania, Gov. Wolf on Wednesday made wearing masks in public mandatory. While some claim that violates their civil rights, Stier notes that wearing masks has helped other countries get the pandemic under control.

“We all have to play our part to make sure the virus doesn’t spread,” says Stier. “And if we do that, we can get businesses open, get the economy moving again faster.”

While many other countries have substantially reduced new coronavirus infections, the United States set a new record high Wednesday, with almost 53,000 new cases reported.

Steir contends that to help the economy recover, lawmakers should take proactive steps now. He proposes they include raising the minimum wage, and giving aid to small businesses that employ workers.

“We need to invest in the economy,” says Stier. “It’s just not going to come back all by itself. We’re facing years of economic devastation if we don’t have active government helping create a restored economy for all of us.”

Without measures to control the coronavirus’ spread, its impact on business, jobs, and the economy would be much worse, he adds.

Photo by José Pinto via Unsplash, used under license