US states, public divided over reopening economy amid pandemic

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Washington, April 23 (IANS) US President Donald Trump was at odds with a number of states run by Democratic Governors, in a push-and-shove match over reopening the world’s biggest economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump and some Republican Governors were pushing for a swifter approach to opening the economy, after millions of Americans have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 shutdown, reports Xinhua news agency.
However, a number of Democratic Governors were slow to reopen their states, citing concerns over the spread of the virus that has so far infected 841,556 people and killed 46,688 others, the highest tallies in the world.
The political fight mirrors what is going on with Americans nationwide.
Those who favor remaining closed said they fret over the health consequences of a virus that is highly contagious and has killed nearly 45,000 Americans.
But those favoring opening up sooner noted that a harsh recession could well mean worse long-term health consequences for Americans — an increase in depression, suicides and stress, and losing employer-provided health insurance as well.
They also noted that most COVID-19 cases, according to studies, are not severe, and that the virus tends to harshly impact those with underlying health problems.
Class warfare was also at play, as service workers tend to be lower earners living paycheck to paycheck, and need to get back to work soon. Those who are able to work at home — many of whom told reporters that there is no rush to reopen — tend to be higher earners and less able to be impacted by the lockdown.
Robert Redfield, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week he believes some 20 states have not been harshly impacted by the virus.
Some of those states’ governors believe the states may be ready to open their economies by Trump’s target date of May 1.
Trump said on Tuesday that 20 states are looking at reopening soon.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced on Monday he would reopen his state’s economy by week’s end.
The state would allow gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors to reopen as long as they adhere to social distancing practices. By Monday, the state will allow restaurants and movie theatres to reopen.
“We’re talking about somebody who has put their whole life into building a business, that has people that they love and work with every single day — working in many of these places,” Kemp said.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham on Tuesday praised his state’s plans to reopen little by little, but blasted neighboring Georgia for taking it too fast.
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick on Monday called for the reopening of his state, as well as the entire country.
“We got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running,” he said.

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