With more than 5 million people living with COVID-19, more than 160,000 deaths and tens of millions of Americans without jobs, it is easy to understand the fears and anxieties of our neighbors.
Since the start of the pandemic, I have regularly emphasized that politicians have struggled to establish a coherent action plan and, above all, a concerted strategy. If here and there we note the joint efforts of a few states, we are still a long way from a national approach. With no apparent ability to slow the spread of the virus, the economy is slow to show encouraging signs.
As long as an effective vaccine is not available, the situation will remain chaotic. While the most optimistic forecasts suggest that a vaccine would be available in early 2021, we also know that it will take a long time before we can vaccinate enough people.
What to do in the meantime? Democrats and Republicans in Congress cannot agree on how much to spend to support the public and businesses while strong leadership is still expected.
Minneapolis Federal Reserve Chairman Neel Kashkari last Friday proposed a more aggressive approach: a six-week nationwide lockdown. For the Republican banker and politician, this is the only way to regain control and save the economy.
Kashkari justifies his proposal by stressing that we must quickly reduce the number of cases and restore confidence. If there were indeed containment plans in several places, we gave up too quickly. The immediate economic sacrifice of containment would be offset by a more robust and sustained recovery in activities.
Will Kashkari’s voice be heard? If he already has the support of scientists and some public health officials, it seems to me legitimate to wonder which politician will risk supporting such an initiative three months before the elections.
What are the chances of uniting Americans and politicians around a national approach? Alas, very thin …