I recently published an OpEd in Morning Consult, about the “reopening the economy” debate in America, especially as some states begin to ease restrictions. As I argue in the piece, I believe the debate itself is misguided and overly simplistic. And part of my view is informed by what we’ve observed at Blue Wolf, owning companies that employ 50,000 workers nationwide — most of whom are essential.
The Trump administration does not need to decide when to reopen America. Despite a strong, understandable desire to stem economic losses, no new mandate will snap the economy back to where things were before — broad levels of reasonable fear of illness and concern of others will keep that from happening fully until we have a vaccine, and probably not for some time after that.
Instead, the administration should take three actions now that would improve the economy, protect people’s health and safety, and jumpstart a return to our pre-pandemic normal:
- Issue clear rules for what it means to work safe and stay safe.
- Fund the cost of complying with those rules.
- Make testing plentiful so infections are addressed rapidly and aggressively, and implement sophisticated contact tracing.
The President, and his team, can easily work with CEOs to quantify what these costs are for every type of worker in the American economy (for Blue Wolf portfolio companies it is $200 per person, per week) — and those specific costs should inform how the federal government reimburses employers moving forward, especially in subsequent stimulus packages.
This is what will protect workers, keep businesses afloat, and ultimately position us to reopen as quickly as possible.