Reopening States Will Cause More Than 200,000 Additional Coronavirus Deaths: Study
COVID-19 News

Reopening States Will Cause More Than 200,000 Additional Coronavirus Deaths: Study

Los Angeles residents wear masks
(iStock/Robin Gentry)

A University of Pennsylvania study shows relaxing lockdowns across U.S. cities and states could lead to more than 200,000 additional coronavirus-related deaths.

According to Yahoo News, the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM), reopening states will result in an additional 233,000 deaths from the virus, even with social distancing rules in place.

Kent Smetters, the PWBM’s director, said the decision to reopen states is ultimately a “normative judgement that comes down to the statistical value of life.”

Smetters added, “That’s not a crude way of saying we put a dollar value on life, but it’s the idea that people will take risks all the time for economic reward.

The model’s purpose is to quantify the trade-off to the economic benefits of reopening states amid the coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus has infected more than one million Americans, killing more than 65,000.

Some states such as Georgia, have either partially reopened, allowing businesses like restaurants, hair salons, and massage parlors to open or are currently discussing it.

However, even partially reopening will cause the death toll to rise significantly. According to the PWBM, partially reopening would mean another 45,000 people dying due to the coronavirus. However, the model does show reopening states would provide a much-needed boost to the country’s economy.

“Almost all net job losses between May 1 and June 30 would be eliminated,” the report found.

Wharton’s data also found continuing state lockdowns will result in a  dramatic increase in unemployment to nearly 50 million.

The PWMB also shows that a state’s reopening could have significant consequences on another state. The model showed if Colorado were to reopen, the PWBM projected an additional 10,000 residents would die from coronavirus.

However, in Kansas, only about roughly 1,300 more residents would succumb to the coronavirus under the same scenario.

The model also applies to state economies. If Wisconsin stays closed, GDP would decline by 13%, compared to 10.8% in Maine.

The model did not compare the effect of reopening on different races. The coronavirus has had a significant effect on African Americans and Hispanics.

According to New York Magazine, African Americans in Georgia make up 52% of the coronavirus-related deaths, but only 33% of the population.


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