By Tank Murdoch @TheNatSent

(TNS) During a White House briefing last week to discuss the Wuhan coronavirus, President Donald Trump defended earlier statements that he wanted to get the U.S. economy moving again.

Asked by a snarky reporter, “How many deaths are acceptable to you?” the president didn’t hesitate.

“Zero,” he fired back.

What a monumentally stupid, pointless, asinine question. And meaningless, given the reality on the ground for tens of millions of Americans, many of whom have either lost jobs in the wake of mass coronavirus-related business closures and work stoppages or are in danger of losing them.

Most of us, by far, live in regions of the country that are not experiencing huge coronavirus outbreaks. And while the president understands that places where the virus is worse we have to take extreme measures to control its spread, he also knows there is no good reason to curb economic activity where the virus really isn’t a problem.

But back to that idiotic question about ‘how many lives are acceptable’ — did the moron who asked it realize that in Tennessee last week there were more suicides than there were coronavirus deaths?

What’s more, state officials are beginning to question whether their shutdown orders are causing an uptick in self-inflicted death.

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Knoxville, Tennessee Mayor Glenn Jacobs said, “That number is completely shocking and makes me wonder if what we are doing now is really the best approach. We have to determine how we can respond to COVID-19 in a way that keeps our economy intact, keeps people employed and empowers them with a feeling of hope and optimism – not desperation and despair.”

As The Federalist’s Tristan Justice noted further:

While it is unclear at this point whether the recent suicides were directly linked to the spread of the virus, their timing alone is strongly indicative, if not proof that they were. According to local Knoxville news station WBIR, the county’s suicides over the span of two days this week equates to about 10 percent of last year’s total where 83 lives were lost to suicide.

Other states have also reported an increase in suicide-related incidents as the virus continues to take its toll on the nation’s mental health. Crisis hotlines nationwide are surging with calls from Massachusetts to Oregon, both of which are states with “shelter-in-place” orders implemented, keeping people out of work and isolated at home.

In Portland, Police Chief Jami Resch said Tuesday suicide threats or attempts are up 41 percent from this time last year and have jumped 23 percent since 10 days before a declared state of emergency, according to local Oregon news outlet KATU.

Look, not to be callous here, but the right balance to public policy regarding our response to the outbreak of this Chinese virus has to be balanced. Some people are going to die; got it.

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But the lives of others are also being endangered — and lost – because of the way state and local governments are responding.

What New Yorkers are experiencing in terms of the outbreak is not the same as what most other Americans are experiencing. As such, it’s not logical for most of the Midwest to adopt the same restrictive business and activity policies.

As Elizabeth Vaughn at Red State writes:

However, as much as we want to say zero deaths are acceptable, the reality is that the collapse of the economy will cost lives as well. And perhaps for a long period of time to come as people try and fail to reboot their once-thriving businesses. Or for those who once held meaningful jobs which were lost forever due to the shutdown and then find themselves unemployed or underemployed afterward. Some businesses won’t reopen at all, especially newer businesses or those which had already been struggling prior to the shutdown.

Certainly they won’t all take their lives. Some will. But others will simply live out their lives in quiet desperation, dissatisfied and frustrated. And their sadness will affect everyone around them.

We expect President Trump to make adjustments this week to the original 15-day guidelines he issued March 9 to slow the spread of the virus. He’s already hinted that they are coming.

His focus will be the revitalization of our economy, to begin in parts of the country where the virus’ spread hasn’t been profound. And as before, he’ll let states take the lead in figuring out their own solutions rather than try to impose a one-size-fits-all approach.

State leaders have to realize that they can’t keep their economies locked down indefinitely. They have to understand that the longer they deprive people of a way to earn a living, the more unrest they will foment, the longer hardships will needlessly endure, and the more deaths they will actually cause.


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