San Jose physician weighs in on reopening the economy

There’s concern that plans to reopen the U.S. economy will trigger a second wave of coronavirus infections, most experts agreeing that it’s too soon to lift the quarantines most state governors have imposed.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is among those who warn that reopening the economy too soon could “backfire.”

He told ABC’s Good Morning America that “unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not gonna happen. So, what you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re gonna set yourself back.”

Even so, a few states are already beginning to reopen.

On April 20, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said businesses like bowling alleys, gyms, hair salons and tattoo parlors could reopen by week’s end.

Tennessee and South Carolina are also considering relaxing restrictions soon.

In California, an estimated 200 protesters took to the streets in Huntington Beach on April 17 calling for an end to the lockdown. Protester Lisa Collins told KABC News that “we’ve complied long enough. Let’s open up the country.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom is developing a roadmap to reopen the Golden State but also said he’ll rely on science and health to determine the pace.

San Jose Dr. Nivedita Lakhera points out that the “economy cannot thrive on dead bodies. We need human beings to create the economy, to sustain the economy. Why else do we have the economy?”

The answer, she said, is to serve people.

“If there aren’t people, who are we serving,” she asked. “How do we tell somebody your wife died because the economy is more important?”

The California Department of Public Health reported 1,208 COVID-19 deaths as of April 19 and nearly 31,000 confirmed cases; the low number of deaths are attributed – in part – to the state’s early and aggressive lockdown policy.

However, there’s also evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 can be re-infected.

‘This virus is a beast,” Dr. Lakhera said. “It’s not even letting people develop immunity, herd immunity is not happening and that’s why in Korea we are seeing hundreds of patients who have previous infection – they got better – and now they have new infection. This virus can mutate very easily, so now we are talking about lack of immunity (and) potentially reactivation.”

Dr. Lakhera argues that “we should save lives because that’s what makes an economy. You need people to buy the stuff corporations sell.”

Many who favor reopening soon argue that people can’t spend money if they don’t earn money.

But as a physician, Dr. Lakhera argues that the people who are locked down are really the frontline defense against COVID-19.

“When you go out, especially, without protection … and you don’t follow social distancing you’re aiding the spread of a fatal pandemic. People need to understand that, no matter what policy makers are saying, these are the facts.”

And the bottom line?

“We have a highly educated population,” she said. “Any economy can recover.”

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