The Coming Reckoning Over the Economic Shutdown

As a result of states’ governors and mayors shutting down the U.S. economy for well over two months, forty-two million Americans have lost their jobs and thousands of businesses have gone bankrupt. Even as the economy shows signs of improving and the coronavirus abates, governors in California, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Michigan, and elsewhere stubbornly resist calls from their citizens and the president to fully reopen the economy.

The media would have us believe that once all governors have lifted their lockdowns those most negatively impacted by the governors’ decisions during this period will simply forgive and forget.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As Americans begin to assess the lockdown’s legacy of shuttered businesses and shattered lives, injured parties will seek accountability and even compensation, from the governors who shut down the states, the experts who prodded the politicians to do so, and the media outlets that encouraged  the prolonged lockdown while ignoring the resulting economic devastation.

Sensing a looming economic catastrophe, Americans have successfully sued states like Wisconsin, Oregon, and North Carolina to fully or partially reopen. California and Michigan citizens are trying to recall their governor, while tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians have signed petitions to impeach their governor, Tom Wolf.

This is only the beginning. Expect a barrage of lawsuits and other actions directed against those involved in implementing state lockdowns, including the “dead-ender” governors still adamantly refusing to open their economies even as the virus subsides.

Expect thousands of newly unemployed workers and bankrupt business owners to sue states for loss of income caused by the mandatory lockdowns. University of Central Florida law professor Enrique Guerra-Pujol argues that such  citizens could sue the state for just compensation under the U.S. Constitution’s “takings clause.” New Jersey legislators are using the Constitution’s “equal protection” clause to sue on behalf of small business owners for compensation lockdown-related losses.

Would anyone be shocked if Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Phil Murphy of New Jersey become subjects of criminal investigation and lawsuits stemming from their introducing COVID-infected patients into nursing homes where more than 10,000 elderly residents subsequently died?

Ambitious lawyers might prod citizens to seek class-action judgments against “expert sources” like Imperial College and even Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose advice panicked governors into locking down.

According to noted surgeon and patient advocate Dr. Steven Greer, we should hold accountable hospital doctors in New York and elsewhere whose patients with early COVID symptoms later died after being refused treatment with hydroxychloroquine.

Greer says accountability rests with the media as well for their relentless campaign against HCQ that created peer-pressure among hospital doctors to not prescribe the drug. “When the press intentionally engages in propaganda that leads to public harm, there should be an investigation,” said Dr. Greer.

Over the coming months plaintiffs’ lawyers, political opponents and certainly the voters will scrutinize all decisions politicians and other “persons of interest” made during this traumatic period.

For instance, why did the governors shut down the nation’s businesses for the coronavirus when the U.S. stayed open during the Hong Kong flu of 1957 responsible for  a 2020 population-adjusted 230,000 American deaths, the 1968-69 flu which killed a population-adjusted 167,000, and the seasonal  flu estimated to have killed  62,000 this year and 80,000 two years ago?

Why didn’t governors reconsider their lockdown strategies weeks ago when randomized antibody tests began revealing a coronavirus  mortality rate of 0.1%, no more fatal than the U.S. seasonal flu?

Why did the New York governor persist in quarantining all citizens when his own antibody study showed that at least 2.7 million New Yorkers, 13% of the population, were already infected, largely asymptomatic  and presumably immune?

Why weren’t citizens provided antibody tests which would have informed potentially millions of Americans they had contracted the disease weeks or months earlier, developed an immunity to it, and could return to their jobs if furloughed?

Were the pro-lockdown cognoscenti unfamiliar with studies like the one conducted by Professor Yitzhak Ben Israel of Tel Aviv University demonstrating that the coronavirus death rates of Sweden, which kept businesses open but limited large crowds and protected the elderly,  and countries like the U.S. that quarantined the healthy are roughly similar?

Do they know that “woke” European countries have abandoned  lockdowns and are adopting Sweden’s herd immunity strategy, as reported in Foreign Affairs?  The magazine notes that many U.S. governors easing restrictions albeit reluctantly are doing so “at the urging of President Donald Trump, who despite bashing the Swedish model, is pushing the country toward something very similar.”

Did they know that the research of Dr. Scott Atlas, former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center, reveals that  isolating the population doesn’t reduce fatalities, it only extends the time it takes for the population to reach herd immunity to coronavirus?

Were governors aware of the  University of Hong Kong research showing that sharing indoor space is a major infection risk, or the  recent study that revealed that most of New York’s thousands of COVID-19 infections occurred indoors?

Also, did our governors consider the National Bureau of Economic Research data  showing that every 1 percent hike in the unemployment rate produces nearly a 1 percent increase in suicides and a 3.3 percent increase in drug-overdose fatalities? Do they know that hundreds of doctors label the lockdown’s medical consequences a “mass casualty incident”?

Could lockdowns have been shortened or avoided altogether if authorities encouraged the use of virus-fighters such as  hydroxychloroquine, plasma therapy, the anti-parasite drug Ivermectin, and UV Light technologies?

Are governors who keep their economies shut fearing a new surge of  COVID-19 illnesses aware that the virus might already be mutating into a weaker, less lethal version?

How will leaders defend hastily initiating statewide business shutdowns based on   Imperial College’s discredited prediction of  2.5 million U.S. coronavirus deaths?

Did they know that coronavirus task force advisor Dr. Birx now believes the CDC is inflating states’ coronavirus death figures by 25% or more?

Why are  California, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania still  shut when according to a new JP Morgan study, reopened states like Georgia and Texas have  fewer COVID deaths than during their lockdowns? JPM concluded that lockdowns could potentially cause “more deaths than COVID-19 itself.”

Governors must be convinced by all means possible to fully reopen their economies now lest America descend into an economic abyss from which it will take years to exit.

And these governors must be prevented from creating new economic catastrophes  by  closing down their states at the slightest hint of a new “emergency” as many are threatening to do should a coronavirus “second wave” materialize.

The more severe and pronounced the reckoning the politicians, media and experts experience over the next weeks and months, the less eager they will be to put America through this misery again.

Sociologist/Futurist Michael G. Zey’s  books include Seizing the Future, Ageless Nation, and The Future Factor. Professor (ret.) Montclair State University's Feliciano School of Business. His website is, twitter @futurist3000.

Image credit: Pixabay public domain