Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson called for parts of the U.S. economy to be reopened in a USA Today op-ed published Sunday.
The senator argued that in order to “to provide life’s basic necessities,” certain parts of the economy must be allowed to remain open. (RELATED: Obama Compares Climate Change To Coronavirus, Rips Trump Rule Change)
“I’m not aware of any public official, including President Donald Trump, who is calling for a complete opening of the U.S. economy,” Johnson wrote. “What more people are saying is that as we learn more about COVID-19, we should evaluate the total societal cost of this awful disease and try to put things into perspective.”
Johnson also implied that suicide rates and drug addictions could spike as people are isolated because of the virus.
“Imagine the potential psychological and human toll if this shutdown continues indefinitely, unemployment reaches 20% or higher, as some now predict, and we sink into a deep recession or depression,” Johnson said.
Most of the American economy has shut down in recent weeks as states attempt to slow the spread of the virus. The shutdown has already wrecked the livelihoods of millions of Americans, as a record 3.28 million people filed for unemployment last week.
While the president previously said he’d like to see the economy re-open by Easter, Trump announced over the weekend that he was extending his administration’s strict social distancing restrictions until at least April 30. Johnson is part of a small, but growing chorus urging the nation to rethink its current strategy.
The Wall Street Journal published an editorial earlier this month arguing that the current strategy is untenable.
“Yet the costs of this national shutdown are growing by the hour, and we don’t mean federal spending,” the editorial board wrote. “We mean a tsunami of economic destruction that will cause tens of millions to lose their jobs as commerce and production simply cease. Many large companies can withstand a few weeks without revenue but that isn’t true of millions of small and mid-sized firms.”