Should President Trump close all nonessential U.S. businesses?

Should President Trump declare all-out war on the coronavirus by closing all nonessential U.S. businesses? The Federal Reserve has fired its bazooka, cutting short-term interest rates almost to zero and enacting other stimulus measures first adopted during the Great Recession in 2008 as the new coronavirus rattles the economy, but even that might not be enough.

Today, the president recommended avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people and also urged Americans to avoid eating and drinking at bars and restaurants.

“Each and every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of the virus,” Trump said. “If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation, and we will defeat the virus, and we’re going to have a big celebration altogether. With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly.”

Rick Newman for Yahoo Finance:

Should Trump close all nonessential business?
President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, 2020 to speed U.S. coronavirus response
Why not just shut the whole country down?

The federal government could take steps to close nonessential businesses while testing to determine whether the virus is dramatically intensifying. Washington couldn’t literally prevent all Americans from leaving their homes, but most business owners would comply. People would mingle far less, reducing the rate of infection for a virus that spreads exponentially without any barriers in place. It might be the best way to “flatten the curve” and get the upper hand against the malevolent bug.

Analyst Ed Mills of Raymond James posits four scenarios for where we’re headed from here, including a “stop everything” situation in which all businesses that can shut down for two weeks do so. If that happens, Mills sees the total number of U.S. infections staying below 500,000, with a turnaround coming by late April. The economic harm would be substantial, but this measure could be an overwhelming force that defeats the virus relatively quickly. Congress would be able to repair some of the economic damage through fiscal stimulus programs.

Under the other three Raymond James scenarios, Washington continues to take an incremental approach. There are more infections and deaths, persisting through the spring, summer or fall, depending on the aggressiveness of government action.

MacDailyNews Take: What do you think?

56 Comments

    1. Actually, I agree with you. Nonessential businesses should absolutely shut down until we have enough testing data to chart a better course, but we should not be conceding that the Federal Government has the constitutional authority to force local closures. Once they are given that power, they may never give it back.

      1. I’m a liberal with a little bit of a libertarian streak, so I tend to agree with you on power retention. That said, there’s a declared state of emergency, which I vaguely recall is not unbounded. Please do shed light.

      2. Very simple question: who defines non-essential? The answer to that is far more complex. Here is one sample possibility. Whatever you are doing: NO! Whatever I am doing: YES!

        1. I don’t think a full shut down is necessary. Where I am living in Canada, all businesses resulting in the physically gathering of 50 people or more are shut down like gyms, pools, movie theaters, medium to big size restaurants, etc. The others are left alone. Essentials like groceries, drug stores, medical clinics and hospitals are obviously still opened. Most restaurants are trying to go in the food delivery business. The more you shut down, the more governments have to provide financial help to both businesses and workers so the economy won’t collapse and people won’t still work even if it is unsafe. So far it seems to be working.

  1. too late now. should have been rushing test kits for weeks. now this panic reaction is happening because hospitals haven’t the capacity they think they will need. might as well let young healthy people go back to business as usual and give weaker people free tests and a 2 week paid vacation to Maralago

    1. Too much MSDNC. Try thinking for yourself sometime. Currently, you sound stupid. Your poor media consumption habits are likely the culprit.

      If a patient has symptoms of a urinary tract infection, they go to the doctor. The pee in a cup. In a fairly short period of time the doctor comes into the room. They tell the patient they do indeed have a urinary tract infection. Then the doctor prescribes an antibiotic that is effective against a large number of bacteria that commonly cause urinary tract infections.

      The patient received a screening test in the doctor’s office. We have these for common illnesses like seasonal varieties of the flu and strep throat. We do not have a test like this for COVID 19 yet. According to Dr. Birx, the Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator, an effective in office screening test for the virus is probably six months away.

      What you may not know, is the urine sample is then sent to a lab to be cultured. The bacteria is identified. This ensures the antibiotic you received will effectively kill the specific bacteria causing your infection. The doctor changes your medication if it is not effective for the bacteria that was found.

      The part of the sample that is sent off to the commercial lab is evaluated in a high throughput test. This test is automated to identify a specific bacteria or virus. It does this by looking for specific markers such as unique proteins. Depending on the test, this can take hours or several days. This is where we are heading this week with COVID 19. In order to conduct tests at the volume required for people displaying COVID 19 symptoms, an automated test had to be developed and distributed to the high volume commercial labs.

      Because the symptoms of COVID 19 can mimic an allergy attack, a cold or the the flu, the volume of potential subjects needing to be tested far exceeded the capability of the manual tests the CDC, state labs and university labs were conducting. This has been explained in painstaking detail by the Task Force. Yet the media that you choose to consume has obviously not explained this to you at all.

      By the coverage you would think the same test the CDC was doing just needed to be given to the commercial labs. This is simply untrue. The CDC had the capacity to process only 40-60 tests a day using the manual method. State and university lab capacity would be about the same. They were operating under the Flu Surveillance Program until the regulatory structure was relaxed in short order to pursue more innovative solutions. The previous protocol was simply not adequate for the current challenge.

      The development of an automated high throughput test will exponentially increase this capacity as they come on line this week. According to the Task Force press conference, the development of this test has been underway for a period of weeks and received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in an astounding five hours.

      It is in the process of being distributed to 2,000 of the largest commercial labs. The predicted turn around time is 24 hours through the automated test. It was several days not including transport through the CDC, state and university labs. There was an issue with the testing media in some of the initial CDC tests, but that was weeks ago and continuing to conflate this with where we are today is dishonest and deliberate. Surely they’re doing just that on your favorite disinformation outlet. Your news consumption choices are making you sound stupid.

      In addition to the high-throughput tests, the Public Health Service in conjunction with FEMA has developed a detailed plan to conduct the tests at scale. These testing sites will roll out first in the areas with the most community spread. Then they will roll out nationally. In a historic public-private partnership, corporations like Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreens will devote portions of their parking lots to set up testing sites.

      This serves two purposes. First, it helps prevent further spread by not requiring people to enter waiting rooms and hospitals to be tested. It also helps prevent stress on the healthcare system by distributing testing facilities broadly and off-site. In those areas that have conducted a large number of tests, the COVID infection rate is between 1-2% of tests. If 100% of those tested arrived at a hospital, the wait would be hours. It would also interfere with emergency care for patients with other health issues. The infected 1-2% would also be exposing much larger numbers of people if traditional health sites were uses.

      The Coronavirus Task Force has learned from the experience of other nations that experienced outbreaks prior to the United States. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has been granted emergency authorities by President Trump to manage the crisis. The HHS has a complete inventory of the healthcare assets we have, including those held by Department of Defense and other agencies. We are protecting our healthcare facilities and personnel by taking testing off site. However, Azar says we must plan for the worst in any event.

      Most of the patients with COVID-19 will not require hospitalization or specialized care. Azar said one lesson learned is to limit the number of facilities where these patients are housed. This may include community hospitals and even mobile hospitals or MASH units used by the military. This limits the need to protect uninfected patients and limits the number of healthcare providers who could be exposed.

      In addition, vaccines are in various stages of testing in the United States, Israel, and Australias. This is happening in record time. Three medications are also already in use to help mitigate the symptoms of the infection. One is a new medication developed for SARS 9 (also a coronavirus) that is being used off label for COVID-19. The other two are generic medications that have been used for years to treat malaria and severe inflammation.

      As testing rolls out, not everyone needs a test. If you are asymptomatic, the task Force asks you to follow the guidance from the CDC and your state and local governments. This is so those in the most vulnerable populations can be tested quickly and efficiently. Also, our supply chains for food and other necessary items are intact. Both the Task Force and the executives from the retail groceries are asking everyone to do normal weekly shopping. Store hours may be modified to provide for deep cleaning and stocking, but they will remain open.

      With increased testing, we will see an increase in the number of cases. This makes sense as testing scales up to cover large portions of the population. This was seen in every country that has scaled testing and you should not be unnecessarily alarmed if you see sensational coverage.

      The Coronavirus Task Force is full of career health professionals who have been working to protect public health for decades. They are giving daily press conferences to update Americans that may not be broadcast on news channels. However, you can go to the White House Youtube channel and see if a press conference is scheduled for today and set a notification so you may watch and be properly informed for a change:

      https://www.youtube.com/user/whitehouse

      Adapted from a March 16, 2020 article by Stacey Lennox here.

      1. Talking out of your ass again! Where’d you get all your alternate oversimplified information? The Media!!!! Where’d you post it? On MDN, a member of The Media!!!

        1. Guessing the San Diego village idiot is back again under a new one time disposable handle. Please go away and please MDN pay attention to multiple screen names by the same person you already have the unique IP address for multiple posts and hopefully end the deceit…

      2. A small country like South Korea got one hundred plus drive through testing Centers AND associated LABS up and running in two weeks. They function 24 hours a day.

        They can with other facilities do 20000 tests a day.

        USA had two months to prepare

  2. Contrary to popular opinion, the federal government is a government of limited powers. It does not have general police powers. The States are the unlimited government with general police powers. (Police powers referring to the ability of the government to exercise control, issue orders, etc.). It is up to the States and their political subdivisions to enter orders such as this. Doubtful that the President has the constitutional authority to do so — even if Congress were to attempt to give it.

  3. Non-essential for whom? I wouldn’t trust that guy to be the decider. A non-essential service for him and his cronies is a life-essential need for millions of others. I don’t understand why we don’t have a Powell or a Schwartzenegger in charge of our national need. We have lots of highly-trained, non-partisan men and women who know how to command and mobilize large numbers of people. If memory serves, it was General Honore who finally got our response to Katrina moving.

  4. World War Z comes to mind. Some of us have it, the virus, some. of us don’t, even the healthy can pass it to others. trump is such a Putz. I thought Pence had more sense, but no. I thought at least 12 Republicans in the senate actually believed in the constitution, but no.We are screwed.

    All that whining while President Obama was in office, he’s going to take your guns, their are going to be death counsels deciding who lives or dies, according to Palin, a person that does not know what the Vice President does, or how about President Obama imposing martial law. You would think people would get tired of Donald Putz Trump, lying to them every time he opens his mouth..

    Now we are to be cooped up in our homes. It just reminds me of a book I read were people just died in their homes by the millions. Well I guess we can make it easier for those that survive. if we don’t make it, they can just burn the house down and be done.

    You think you can trust trump to tell you the truth?! Guess what, he is the government now. Uh, was he in public today? Seen his wife today? maybe she on the courts. I’m just saying, I’m just tired of the bad news, I didn’t notice if he was in public today. If he had his mouth open a lie was coming out of it.

    Man! what a time.

    1. I didn’t see you today. Were you in public? We didn’t vote for Trump to “be in public.” We voted for him to be The President, so I’m guessing he has been spending some time there recently. As for Melania, I didn’t vote for her, so I don’t care where she was/ is. Neither should you or the press.

  5. WEEKS ago I posted a video (2 hrs long) of a talk given by Dr Aylward a Canadian who led a WHO team of experts from USA, Europe etc into China where they spent weeks studying the crisis. and list down methods on how it was contained (at the time it was starting to drop off)

    Aylward is an expert and led teams against Ebola, Zika etc as were all the other members of the team
    Aylward in the video talks about massive testing, MRI scans for fast testing, social distancing, contact tracing, use of A.I to track infections, supplying food etc to quarantine patients etc.

    Award said China was testing 46,000 people a DAY at one point.

    When I posted it here at MDN I was LAUGHED at, with numerous one star votes, many saying don’t trust WHO, it’s socialist, beholden to China, and run by a Tedrous a ‘BLACK ETHIOPIAN’ . The Chinese are lying etc, no way they can stop it etc.
    Chinese are inefficient, stupid, dirty, unlike the West. the West with its superiority in all areas would be able to handle the outbreak, no sweat.

    One prominent doctor on a top USA news program even said ‘never listen to WHO’. Chinese are inefficient, liars , quarantines are MEDIEVAL. etc.

    And when the outbreak EXPLODED in Italy weeks later the same doctor said “Now with a Western country infected we FINALLY have DATA to devise a strategy as it’s from a Western (i.e White) country (i.e he dismissed the two months of Data from China, South Korea, Singapore etc who all have contained the outbreak. South Korea has tiny fraction of the deaths of Italy although suffering a serious outbreak).

    Anyhow for those actually interested here’s the video again.

    It’s like a TIME MACHINE , maybe people should have listened.

    it scary that prominent Western politicians TODAY say the virus would NATURALLY die down like in China. The containment in China was NOT natural at all but the use of targeted, sustained effort.
    (Few Western countries today has a plan to STOP the outbreak, it’s just band aid mitigation.What happens in a months time when half hearted restrictions lifted ? )

    Those auto hate all things Asian be free to one star again.

    (I thought I’ll just do this as public service).

    1. Good post. Wow, this is a tough one. Americans are not prepared for, nor will they (easily) accept measures like those implemented in China. Also, consider the high likelihood that China used “other unorthodox methods of containment” that didn’t make it into The WHO report. We have all heard the rumors. Terrifying!! If America wants to get a handle on things like China (supposedly) has, then Americans are gonna have to amp things up x100. It is possible that this crisis hasn’t even gotten started in North America.

      1. I try just to keep to virus related stuff.
        (I honestly don’t wish to live in China under Xi but regardless of how we feel we have to learn if info is available so we can’t ramp up faster , or don’t make the same mistakes etc)

        Also South Korea has good data.

        Asian countries use A.I to track patients , phone apps to track outbreak zones to avoid, apps to identify where testing is available, where are stores in stock with sanitizers etc. Medical personell have helmet mounted Thermal imaging cameras to scan crowds etc. Airports etc have wall thermal imagers.

        Here is another good video:
        Dr. Ian Lipkin a USA infectious disease expert who fought SARS and spent most of the Corvid 19 outbreak in China.

        It’s a FoxNews interview ( so conservatives don’t say I’m biased… )

        https://video.foxnews.com/v/6141610029001#sp=show-clips

    2. Only 23% of republicans are considering changing their behaviour for the coronavirus. This is a result of Trump’s posturing. He’s killing America and its future economy.

  6. The Coronavirus numbers just aren’t anywhere near other pandemics like the 2009 Swine Flu, globally, nationally, or locally. Yet, our economy is in total meltdown, our country is in total lockdown, and the 1st and 10th amendments are being violated with the CDC/federal government is starting to tell churches and citizens how many can freely gather. We appear to be on the verge of martial law under conditions that are far less extreme than previous pandemics.

    It’s not that we shouldn’t be addressing the Coronavirus but our response doesn’t add up. Is there something they not telling us?

    Where is the outcry from the federalists and constitutionalist? In North Dakota there’s1 recorded infection as I write. Friday, Governor Burgum said education is a parental responsibility. K-12 schools would remain open, parents were free to act as they think best, and the state would continue to monitor the situation and adjust accordingly. Seems reasonable and in line with a federalist view of government. Then Sunday, under pressure from CDC Governor Burgum change position and all public schools are closed.

    Decisions seem to be driven by hysteria more than allowing communities to decide what’s best given real time data and making adjustments as needed.

    1. what data? this administration didn’t treat the virus seriously for 2 months. there is a massive shortage of tests. nobody knows where the virus is. the panic now has everything to do with doctors crying for more resources just in case. no disagreement but too late to make a difference. horse is out of the barn!

      1. You don’t know what you are talking about and please pay attention: Unbridled HATE for President Trump is YOUR OPINION and does not automatically translate into REALITY.

        Please stop and act mature. This is no time to be partisan, we all need to work together…

        1. Fine Goeb, let’s pretend your worldview is accurate.

          In reality, this administration silently started working with international pandemic experts in Nov 2019 and they immediately funded vaccine research. They didn’t call it a Chinese problem, as leaders of the Free World, the toughest man in the universe immediately called an international conference to form a complete worldwide plan. They immediately started alerting the public that there was a new virus on the loose that could be much nastier than the flu, and reminded everyone what precautions everybody should take all through the holidays. 3 months later, The Donald has a huge stockpile of respirators and Covid-19 test kits, he’s merely keeping it quiet. Donald is so meek that way. The CDC knows exactly what cities will see the next outbreak. Officials know exactly what cities can operate with minimal disruption and other cities will have a definite shutdown for a known period. Sports leagues, schools, theaters, and conferences all had plenty of forewarnings so they were ready to hold their events virtually. When you call your doctor today, you receive a crisp response telling you how to get tested.

          AND THEN YOU WOKE UP.

          Nobody politicizes more than Donald. Nothing is ever his fault, he takes no responsibility. Hoax! Fake News! Media is Public Enemy #1! Whatabout Obama! Hannity says Dems are very very bad! Lock up Clinton! Hamberders! Muslims! Rapists!

          It is not playing politics to expect basic competence in leaders.

      2. How long did it take Trump to declare an emergency after The WHO declared the Wuhan virus a pandemic? One or two days? How long did it take Obama/ Biden to do the same with swine flu? How many were sick and dead in the US before Obama/ Biden declared an emergency? Wasn’t it months? MONTHS? And what about yourself? I’m sure you sat around watching the virus explode in China months ago. When did you start to prepare?

    2. The situation in Italy is a genuine emergency, not hysteria. The nature of disease is to grow exponentially, so something that was safe two days ago may not be safe today.

            1. Even if it were true that all the dead are over 50 (and it isn’t), when did older human beings become less valuable than younger ones?

              Let us not forget that Soylent Green is set in 2022.

        1. You sound like the dudes in Italy 10 days ago.

          Even with lock down, deaths in Italy have passed 2000. 300+ a day.
          And the reason why the deaths are ‘relatively low’ is that the hotspot towns were quarantined weeks ago. Big cities like Milan were mostly spared.
          Most of the deaths are from RURAL areas mainly !

          yet already hospitals are overwhelmed. The sick need intensive care with ventilators etc which are in short supply. Even with makeshift hospitals in warehouses, some sources say doctors now might have to preform triage and decide who lives or dies.
          (300 plus dead a day means there must be thousands in hospitals that need intensive care)

          Doctors estimate death rates could be hundreds of thousands in USA if not contained.

          Corvid 19 with mortality of at least 1% is therefore at least 10 times more lethal than seasonal flu (0.1 mortality)
          Flu on average year kills 20,000 people in USA, Corvid 19 therefore might kill 200k.
          But Flu goes down in hot weather but might not be true for Corvid 19
          WHO says mortality counting Italy stats is closer to 3% plus.

          Please note China with 1.4 billion population with heavy quarantine contained deaths to about 3000 and South Korea similarly has a small number vs Italy with 2000 deaths as they started serious measures just a TAD slow.

          Hospitals in USA and every country are stretched thin, in some USA countries there are practically zero spare ventilators, or quarantine beds available.They are already using ER’s to house Corvid 19 patients. Fortunately for the moment some patients can be transferred to other cities as USA is so big but at a point if infection spreads it won’t be possible

          If hospitals get overwhelmed what about the normal Cancer, injury, heart attack etc patients ? There are practically no spare beds now.

          1. The Governor of Connecticut reports that his hospitals are already dangerously short staffed because there are 200 nurses who have been exposed and cannot return to work because testing for them is not available.

        1. Just a guess: the good guys are on the side that doesn’t call the other side idiots and refuse to change their behaviors when the situation calls for it.

          The other side is selfish, it resists all change especially if it costs them a dime. The selfish side declared the world flat and imprisoned Galileo when he dared challenge the lie. The selfish side that insisted that their economy couldn’t operate without free slave labor. The selfish side insisted tobacco wasn’t a health hazard. The selfish side demands walls and marches down avenues with anti-US paraphernalia and chants “They will not replace us.” The selfish side declares those people on the other side of the shoddy wall are all murderers and rapists. The selfish side says everyone is on their own, individuals can ignore all the risks. The selfish side says this is a Chinese flu and it will go away like any other when summer comes, get back to work. Then on Sunday, the selfish side goes to church to pray to the effigy of a dark skinned middle eastern wandering prophet, a great community organizer who refused militarism and taught his followers to love the least among us. How far the rightist wing has strayed.

  7. Look, I’ve been contracted to give a macro economic analysis on the effects of the virus and I’ll give you the good and the bad news.

    There’s a warping of statistics and potential deaths against the elderly because as the spread increases various countries health systems come under pressure so hard economic and medical decisions have to be made. As Intensive Care Units (ICU) facilities are put under pressure decisions are made on the basis of:

    – the potential future productive capacity of a patient
    – the future potential child bearing of a patient and so on.

    You do this when you have to ration medical facilities. Complicating this is the insurance based medical system in the United States and as an Australian we come to rely on our public, tax payer based system (supplemented by a private hospital system) so I cannot comment too much on the American health care system)

    That being the case horrible ethical decisions are then made. The elderly patients are placed at the end of the queue in terms of ICU facilities and younger patients are then given priority. That isn’t happening in Australia but it is happening in Iran, Italy and other countries where their facilities are under strain.

    President Trump’s opinion of the virus waning during the warmer months of July and August has NO scientific basis whatsoever. He is basing this on the projected path of a normal influenza which COVID-19 is not. It is however similar in structure to the H2N3 virus so we are closer to a vaccine than is being currently admitted to. However, the vaccine is NOT around the corner.
    The United States’s response has been tardy, haphazard and inconsistent and this will lead to an extended period of infection and economic dislocation.
    When I started doing this research I expected a V shaped downturn. I no longer support this view. At the vary least I expect a U shaped downturn which will last for some time. Tourism is grinding to a halt (anyone want travel at the moment…not bloody likely). Ditto for the hospitality industry. Cinemas…yeah right! As the virus spreads its infection it also spreads throughout the international and local economies and the spread still hasn’t reached a peak.
    Governments HAVE to be honest with their citizenry and not cause a panic and that is a real balancing act. What I have seen up until very recently in America has been a government in denial and an American President displaying his incompetence, lack of empathy and manifest stupidity. Contradicting health authorities does not prevent panic in the American population and business community, rather it has the opposite effect and we’re seeing that playing out.

    I could go on and on but you get the idea of where I’m going with this. On a personal note I’ve been in close contact with a psychologist friend so I don’t get overwhelmed by all the COVID-19 material that I have to work through except she got overwhelmed as well. Make no mistake, this is the biggest health threat since the 1918 influenza pandemic. There is a lack of real hard data but as more and more people get sick it will give a better understanding of the effects of the virus both medically and economically. What we still don’t know is this:

    Is immunity from infection long or short term?
    When China eventually gets back on its feet will the virus re-emerge? And the same can be asked about other countries as well.
    When there is a vaccine who gets priority? Is it the elderly, those with compromised immune system, the poor and which countries are at the front of the queue?

    One final point needs to be made. About nine months ago one of my neighbours asked when and where the next economic crisis would come from. My answer was that if I knew that then I’d be retired and wealthy. This virus is what is called a “Black Swan” event or as that other Donald (Rumsfeld) once said this is an “unknown unknown”. I just wish that the current US administration hadn’t hacked away at the CDC because as a former Australian Prime Minister (Tony Abbott) once colourfully said “Shit happens”.

  8. I’d like to add a couple of brief points to my previous post.

    I have NOT criticised the US Veep as he seems to understand the gravity of the situation. I just saw the most recent episode of John Oliver’s show and there is footage of the President Trump making things up as he goes along. Vice President Pence is in the background, looks to the side and shakes his head from side to side in apparent disagreement with what Donald Trump is saying. This is telling footage.

    This virus will test various countries’ health systems. The truth and solid leadership is what needed NOT obfuscation, lies and guesswork. Trust your population to take it all in, ignore social media and trust science-based information.

    Look at the countries that are on top of the virus and see how they have approached it. Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore do come mind.

    One of the indicators of economic activity in China is electricity usage. What is happening is that factories have the lights on, machines are running but no-one is operating them. So when will know when China is back on deck…when the postponed People’s Congress is held and that won ‘t be for another month at least. You see it’s one thing for ordinary Chinese citizens to be infected and it’s another thing altogether for 5000 good comrades to start dying and that’s particularly true of President Xi.

    One final point is that I’ve found a moderate intake of chocolate helps as well. It doesn’t protect against the virus but it does great things for your psyche. Good luck, keep sanitised and ignore all the BS.

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