Italy opens its economy while still battling the coronavirus outbreak

Image of Italian Lockdown

It seems like months have passed since Italy’s coronavirus crisis was front-page news. On March 8, 2020, the country’s government took unprecedented steps to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Overnight the government imposed severe travel restrictions on the country’s Lombardy region, which powers the country’s economic engine. Nationwide all cultural and entertainment centers were closed. The leaders did allow food establishments to remain open but only if they could maintain social distancing of three feet. In the U.S. The de facto standard for social distancing as established by the  CDC is 6 feet. Who would dispute the fact that bars and restaurants have always been places for social engagement?  It is safe to conclude that being in proximity with one and another is part of the social experience. Regardless, the social distancing requirements imposed on Italians just like here in the USA effectively shut down the foodservice industries. Has all of these undemocratic restrictions on our personal liberties been worth it?

In terms of deaths, the coronavirus has hit Italy the hardest of European countries. Amazingly the country is now taking bold steps to reopen its economy. More than 4.4 million Italians went back to work on Monday after seven weeks of extraordinary restrictive measures, according to an Aljazeera article. Italian leaders should receive a round of applause for displaying courage in opening the country’s economy. It should not be forgotten that Italy was facing economic and political problems before the outbreak.

Why are New York’s elected officials still preaching a daily message of doom and fear of the coronavirus without offering a real path to a more normal existence? I am neither an epidemiologist, virologist, doctor, public health official, an administrator of a company that delivers health services, nor a statistician. From what I have read, a vaccine to prevent infection from the virus is a long way off. The mountains of data do not indicate why the coronavirus strikes and kills some people while others are hardly affected. It is doubtful that the lockdown and other restrictions will speed up the development of herd immunity Public policy should not be based upon the argument that this coronavirus “is novel” and, thus more research needs to be undertaken before the economy can be opened again. The problem is that the experts (and pseudo-experts) issue their opinions and finding and then debate and discredit their own research and conclusions. We have become a society infected with equivocation and lack of courage to take bold action.

I live in Queens New York City,  which is the epicenter of the virus’ rampage in New York State. By most standards, I am better off in many ways than the average New Yorker. The virus has not infected me and if it has, I have not developed any noticeable symptoms. Healthwise I am fine, though I am suffering from cabin fever. It is sad that so many people have lost their battling the virus.

What is becoming clearer every day especially since warmer weather has arrived is that the lockdown is disintegrating under its own weight. There are a lot of reasons for this breakdown. These reasons will be discussed in a later post. What New York State’s liberal Democratic leaders need to realize is that their main political base believes that the eternal lockdown is worse than the health consequences caused by the virus’ outbreak. Many average hard-working New Yorkers feel the same way as their Italian counterparts as the consequences of the lockdowns. Listen to their comments as complied in a BBC video. You cannot help but feel their pain and admire their courage.

By Leslie Elliott Armijo* To overcome the multiple challenges of the COVID‑19 crisis, Latin America’s leaders will need to build regional cooperation around pragmatic solutions – an elusive goal for countries with a legacy of disunity and weak collaboration. The coronavirus has hit at a moment of economic vulnerability. Regional growth averaged only 1.9 percent […]

via Regionalism in the Time of Coronavirus: The Only Way Forward? — AULA Blog

The AULA blog always offers insightful and well-written articles. This one is no exception to the norm.

Clearly, the region’s countries should work together politically and economically to resolve the many problems that the pandemic has caused. The virus is a global problem that needs to be resolved by nations working in unity.

Yet, this post starts by acknowledging that this is not likely to happen because of the regional countries’ legacy of disunity and weak collaboration. These observations are as true as they conflict with each other. Look at the Eurozone nations for an example of non-regional cooperation. These nations are bound by a treaty to act jointly on fiscal and economic matters. Yet, national politics and fiscal objectives constantly stretch and pull the organization apart at its legal seams. Why should we expect more political cohesion from South America/Caribbean nations that are bound only by loose regional organizations that have no enforcement teeth or money?

The pandemic coronavirus will end either by the hand of science or mother nature. Countries like Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, and to a lesser extend Bolivia will form a de facto bloc of irrelevant and unwilling players in the scheme of regional cooperation. These countries have  “weakened immunity system” in that their underlying political and fiscal system are already compromised. It is the lack of pragmatism that has led to their severe problems. Cooperation on a regional level can only be considered as wishful thinking.