Georgia on My Mind: Mixed Messaging on Reopening

Ty Aravazhi Contributor
Georgia on My Mind: Mixed Messaging on Reopening
Read Time: approx. 1:51

Cover Photo: Public Domain

Georgia on My Mind: As the United States barrels through a second month of lockdown, Americans are justifiably becoming restless. Desperate to work and rebuild the economy, several groups have taken to the streets calling on their governors to ease restrictions. On Monday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced his intention to reopen certain businesses in his state today. Although last Friday President Trump called for the “liberation” of states like Michigan, Virginia, and Minnesota he appeared to reverse course on Wednesday, stating that he strongly disagrees with Governor Kemp’s decision, believing “it’s too soon.”

On the Left: While the issue is not entirely divided along partisan lines, Democratic leaders have generally been more open to enacting and extending lockdown measures. In an opinion piece published by The Week, Ryan Cooper argues that “trying to force the economy back open before the pandemic is under control will only prolong the economic damage, and keep de facto lockdowns going on and on for months or years.” John Avalon at CNN echoes that sentiment pointing to the deadly consequences Denver faced when it hastily reopened its economy during the 1918 pandemic. He explains, “By backing off social distancing too early, [Denver] utterly failed to flatten the curve and suffered a second [wave]…deaths were spiking, and Denver officials scrambled to reinstate bans…but the damage had been done.” Interestingly enough, the Governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, seems to be a notable exception among Democrats. On Wednesday, he announced that his “stay-at-home” order would be downgraded to a relatively relaxed “safer-at-home” order.

On the right: At this time, several states with Republican governors (South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and Ohio) have already reopened certain businesses and public areas, or have announced plans to do so. However, Republicans are not exclusively aligned on the matter. Republican Congressman Doug Collins of Georgia criticized Governor Kemp for not coordinating with local leaders, and for his inconsistent approach to reopening their state’s economy. Nevertheless, there are Republican figures promoting the need to reopen the economy. Republican Senator Pat Toomey acknowledged, “We’re doing enormous damage to workers, to families, and to small business owners. Some of the damage is going to end up being irreversible.” He further explained that it is already safer for workers in certain areas to return to work. Some conservative voices are also arguing for reopening on the basis of other diseases (like heart disease) being more deadly, yet these illnesses haven’t warranted the shutdown of the American economy.

Flag This: Currently, Governor Kemp is maintaining his position on easing restrictions despite his divergence with Trump. More generally, when thinking about the ramifications of reopening, looking abroad can be a valuable indicator of how the American economy may respond. For example, Germany has permitted stores up to 8600 square feet to reopen. That being said, consumers are remaining at home and saving their money. China also attempted to reopen; however, a new hot spot appears to be emerging in a city called Harbin. The region’s dense population of 10 million people has been locked down amid a reported 537 confirmed cases. Lastly, the city-state of Singapore was initially on solid footing, but in recent days its caseload has more than doubled to 10,000 confirmed cases. Hannah Beech, at the New York Times, postulates that these numbers in the notoriously tidy city-state suggest the United States and Europe will find it difficult to return to normalcy anytime soon, even when curves appear to have flattened.