Mar 23, 2020 - Health

Understanding the backlash to coronavirus lockdowns

Clockwise from top left: Cable-car tracks on California Street in San Francisco ... Times Square ... Windley Key, Florida ... Chicago. Photos: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images, Noam Galai/Getty Images, Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images, Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

Just a week after getting everyone on board with a coronavirus lockdown, President Trump is already teasing its end.

Between the lines: It's hard not to sympathize with folks who are asked to shoulder an unfair share of the burden when they aren't the ones calling the shots.

  • Millions of Americans are losing their jobs at the same time as their families face a once-in-a-century pandemic.
  • The lockdown is particularly devastating for service workers, blue-collar workers and small businesses, and Senate Democrats today blocked the Phase 3 stimulus bill for the second time in 24 hours. (They want more protections for workers and more strings attached.)
  • White-collar workers are obviously not immune from coronavirus hardships, but their jobs are the simplest to make remote.

The big picture: Until we get the pandemic under control, there's no way the economy is going back to normal, Axios' Felix Salmon notes.

  1. New York is a global epicenter for the virus, and its borders to other states are open.
  2. Surgeon General Jerome Adams today: "We don't want Dallas, or New Orleans, or Chicago to turn into the next New York."
  3. America's coronavirus testing has been a disaster from the start and some public health officials are de-emphasizing tests because of severe shortages.
  4. Quarantines don't just take two weeks: Not every city or state began sheltering in place at the same time, and judging by the number of folks who remain out and about, the spread has not been contained to our homes.
  5. Even if Trump wanted to call off the lockdown, states and cities largely acted in advance of his requests.

The bottom line: If you thought the reaction so far has been tough, this week could produce the worst unemployment claims data in American history.

  • And as Trump ally Lindsey Graham tweeted today: "Try running an economy with major hospitals overflowing, doctors and nurses forced to stop treating some because they can’t help all, and every moment ... played out in our living rooms, on TV, on social media, and shown all around the world."

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When $2.2 trillion is not enough

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Perhaps the most important thing about the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill the Senate passed late Wednesday night is that it is not a stimulus bill at all.

  • It is not intended to stimulate growth and spending to offset a potential downturn; it is designed to prevent mass homelessness, starvation and a wave of business closures not seen since the height of the Great Depression.

The workers feeding America

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As worried shoppers buy in bulk, stress is mounting for retailers, warehouses and farms — which need more labor at the very time people are being told to stay at home.

Why it matters: America isn't running out of food. But there's increasing strain on the supply chain as the workers who produce and deliver our groceries are sheltering at home, quarantined or are (justifiably) too spooked to show up for work.

Pelosi and Schumer call for paid sick leave for coronavirus patients

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer at a news conference in the Capitol, May 15, 2019. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged the Trump administration to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus by stepping up workers' protections with a series of new measures.

Details: Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement the administration should introduce paid sick leave for those impacted by COVID-19, enable widespread and free coronavirus testing access, expand programs such as SNAP food stamps, and reimburse patients for noncovered costs related to the virus.

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