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Top Democrat Warns Against Reopening Economy Too Soon

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Welcome back to Human Capital! President Donald Trump has named two separate teams – financial services leaders and lawmakers — to help reopen the nation’s economy, but Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee, tells Human Capital that the public health crisis brought on by COVID-19 must be contained first or the nation’s businesses risk a “false start.”

In announcing his Opening Up America Again campaign Friday, a three-stage plan for governors to use in reopening their economies, Trump argued that preserving the health of Americans also means “preserving the health and functioning” of the nation’s economy.

But hold on, Beyer told Human Capital in a Friday email message. The No. 1 priority for the economic task forces should be “to listen to the epidemiologists and other experts” who warn the health crisis is paramount “and that reopening the economy too soon — before the coronavirus is sufficiently contained — could make a horrible situation even worse.”

The nation’s top economists are “clear that the No. 1 priority for the economy is to contain the coronavirus,” Beyer said. “That will require extended social distancing, widespread testing, a treatment and a vaccine. America can’t open for business fully until those are in place.”

Trump’s handling of the economy “and his success in containing the coronavirus are closely intertwined,” according to Beyer.

If businesses reopen and then close “again a few weeks later — some may never recover from such a false start.”

Governors and mayors across the country “are developing smart plans based on science to reopen local economies,” Beyer said, and Trump should follow their lead.

Trump’s guidance to open parts of the economy before May 1 “contradicts the guidance of his own coronavirus task force. The country needs clarity and consistency right now, not political posturing based on pseudoscience.”