Could a longer shutdown of the coronavirus (COVID-19) be better for Michigan’s economy in the long run?

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Could staying at home longer because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) ultimately benefit us economically? Public health experts are pushing to be patient with current restrictions to avoid a second spike in disease.

Dr. Howard Markel is one of the researchers who helped coax the phrase “flatten the curve”. He is director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. He said history suggests that patience pays off.

The 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic hit the United States hard. Markel’s data on the response of cities has also been used by economics researchers to examine how cities have recovered.

“What they found was the cities with the best records, the ones that acted in layered reactive non-pharmaceutical interventions and performed them for a long time,” Markel said. “These cities rebounded in the economy after the flu of 1919 in a much stronger way than those that were hit hard.”

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Although the world and our economy are very different now, Markel said that reopening too early always risks having to close again for longer.

“It’s economically costly for many Michigan families,” Markel said. “I understand them, but it’s better to stay the course and be patient so that we can sort this out and get back to our normal lives.”

“What we are trying to do here is to prevent the spread of a disease and, most importantly, to prevent the spread of a fatal disease to our loved ones.”

Some have cited the low number of patients at the TCF field hospital as an example that we do not need these restrictions. Markel said it was just the opposite. It’s a sign that what we’re doing is working.

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