Hasty lockdown lifts could slow economic recovery—just ask Dr. Fauci

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Good morning. David Meyer here in Berlin, filling in for Alan.

On Sunday I went for a run around my large local park, where hundreds of Berliners were enjoying the warmth. I had just read an article about how people exercising could pose more of a virus-spreading risk, so, though I have no reason to suspect I am infected, I wore a mask out of a sense of social responsibility. Pandemic etiquette, if you will.

I was the only runner there to do so and, among the not-very-socially-distant crowds on the grass and paths, I counted just six masks. It should have felt calming to see scant evidence of this pandemic, but it was mostly terrifying.

Germany is doing well, relative to countries such as the U.K., in how it is handling COVID-19—which is why so many people are watching our rollback of lockdown restrictions, to see what happens. But I fear comparative success is leading to complacency that could allow a severe second wave. Just because our shops and restaurants are cautiously reopening, that doesn’t mean the coast is clear.

My weekend experience sprang to mind when Anthony Fauci gave remote testimony to senators yesterday, issuing a stark warning about the consequences of moving out of lockdown too quickly.

Without being watchful and ready to respond to early signs of resurgence, the infectious-disease specialist said, “There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control, which in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery.”

Fauci’s testimony spooked already-nervous markets, knocking 457 points off the Dow. In Europe, where second-wave fears are also taking hold—Germany’s infection rate is worryingly around the crucial threshold of 1—markets are also down this morning.

Our economies certainly need to be restarted, and we should do whatever we can safely manage in order to achieve that. But, to avoid the paradox that Fauci set out so plainly yesterday, we have to accept that baby steps may get us back to our destination of quasi-normality more quickly than bold leaps.

News below.

David Meyer


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