By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner


“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” – Unknown 

Wirepoints made the case in COVID-19: Seven facts that tell us Illinoisans can and must get back to work, that deaths will extend far beyond the virus if the economy isn’t reopened soon. Recessions and depressions kill. Interwoven in economic declines are deaths from bad health, poverty, opioid abuse, suicide, domestic violence and depression. We don’t need models to know that, just past experience.

It’s not a trivial concern to be dismissed out of hand. The Congressional Budget Office now predicts the virus will trigger the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Others warn of worse.

But dismiss is exactly what opponents of a reopening do, declaring those that want to return to work are exchanging lives for money or “throwing grandma under the bus.” They are often so vitriolic in their attacks that you can’t help but think they know little about the pain and suffering that accompanies a recession. Maybe too many of them have had it too good for too long.

And here’s the tragic irony. The longer a lockdown continues, the more likely it is that the deaths attributable to economic devastation will overtake the number of direct COVID-19 deaths, says Prof. Joseph Pagliari of University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. And the victims will be our country’s most vulnerable. 

The warnings are overwhelming. After just five weeks, nearly 30 million Americans are unemployed. And if the Federal Reserve of St. Louis’ 32 percent unemployment predictions are right, it will soon reach 50 million. The suffering Americans can expect to endure is tangible:

“Every 1 percent hike in the unemployment rate will likely produce a 3.3 percent increase in drug-overdose deaths and a 0.99 percent increase in suicides, according to data from the National Bureau of Economic Research and the medical journal Lancet…If unemployment hits 32 percent, some 77,000 Americans are likely to die from suicide and drug overdoses as a result of layoffs.”

The reality is nobody knows and understands what havoc this shutdown will bring. Never before have we experienced an on-demand shut down of our economy. It’s unprecedented.

Preventing deaths, providing for the vulnerable

Opponents apparently forget the shutdown was put in place not to decrease the number of overall COVID-19 deaths but to spread them out over time. Experts across the nation have explained that barring a rapidly-created vaccine, everyone is eventually going to be infected.

In response, governments set out to “flatten the curve” to make sure hospitals were not overwhelmed in the early days of the outbreak. Illinois has largely accomplished that. Outbreaks appear to have peaked, and thankfully, neither the country nor the state ever ran out of hospital beds, ICU beds or ventilators. In fact, states across the country continue to build an excess supply.

Now Illinois’ strategy should shift toward limiting total deaths from both the virus and the economic downturn. We have so much more data than we did in mid-March when the shutdowns began. We can actually protect grandma better now.

We now know that those most at risk are victims with underlying causes. Ninety percent of COVID-19 victims had at least one comorbidity. The data from the CDC, New York, Italy, Louisiana, etc. is overwhelming. Those with underlying causes are the ones who by far need the most protection. Focus all the health and financial resources on them. Many will protect themselves via self-isolation, but many may need support depending on their health risk, income level, multi-generational homes, etc.

With the most-at risk demographics protected, the general population can return to work and begin to provide for themselves and the most vulnerable.

It no longer makes sense to “quarantine” the unhealthy and the healthy, i.e. the younger, un-compromised crowd. Quarantining everybody for an indefinite period is not a viable solution. It won’t work if you think about the math. The healthy should be back out in the workforce producing and earning a living so we can have an economy that can take care of the people who can’t take care of themselves, including the quarantined. And somebody needs to generate wealth so we can repay the trillions that we just spent.

Worst of both worlds

Illinois should be much smarter about how it’s approaching the COVID-19 crisis. If the state isn’t careful, it will end up with the worst of both worlds – a maximum number of deaths from both economic devastation and from COVID-19.

The developing tragedy can’t be ignored any longer. Wirepoints and others simply want Gov. Pritzker to include the tragedy’s human toll in the calculus behind his health and economic decision making. Right now, we don’t see any evidence he is. 

There is room for reasonable debate about what to doBut by ignoring the human costs of the COVID-19 shutdown, opponents of reopening are throwing millions under the bus.


Read more about the impact of the Coronavirus on Illinois:


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Sandra Smiley
6 months ago

To start with.
Not as many people dieing from covid19 as they say

If you get shot in the head
Test positive for covid19
That’s what they say you died from
Not the bullet in your head
So the numbers are wrong
Our governor wants us to be bank rupt
.He doesn’t care .
Now he wants us in jail if we go to another state and a fine
How does that make sense.??

W A Lenz
6 months ago

Another factor to be considered in the tradeoff between deaths due to covid-19 and deaths due to the lockdown (estimated above at 77,000) is that the latter should be compared, not to the total deaths from the virus, but to the lives saved by the lockdown – which is far fewer. If we assume the lockdown saves as many as 1000 lives (by reducing the stress on hospitals etc,) then we are killing an additional 76,000 people due to the lockdown.

Transparent illinois
6 months ago

Even the Washington Post is writing about the Mental Health Crisis –

6 months ago

Hinz would not know academic rigor if it hit him in the face. He is a reactionary writer all too willing to regurgitate talking points of the Democratic Machine.

6 months ago

At some point, folks in Illinois should just ignore Pritzker, and the minions like Hinz. Many, many businesses are effectively ignoring the asininity of Pritzker and working.

PS: Have to say the national media coverage of Illinois is not good – People all over are seeing what a mess Democrats have made of Illinois.

Richard Poo Millersky
7 months ago

Michelle Obama says “When they go low, we go higher”. 😁

Bob Out of Here
7 months ago

This, coming from that bald headed twit who is still getting a paycheck. I still have a job for the time being courtesy of 3P, but I worry about what will happen to our business. The toll it has taken on me is indescribable. All options are on the table if I lose my job.

Poor Taxpayer
7 months ago

Honest hard working taxpayers get off easy if the kill themselves. The greedy cops, teachers and firemen want to work you to death, a slow miserable death. Get out of Illinois while you are still alive.
The quality of life is on a steep decline. Even the slaves use to go to free states.

Illinois Entrepreneur
7 months ago

Well said, Ted and John. Nice job.

It’s a shame that the left constantly reverts to the “you’re a Lord of the Flies inhuman bastard for your views” argument whenever something like this becomes a reasoned discussion.

My answer to them is to grow up, and stop acting like a smug teenager claiming moral superiority. The world is a lot more complex than they try to shame everyone into thinking.

7 months ago

This too must be some talking point in the talking points memo released daily because the same argument (we are throwing grandma under the bus) is made by all the same smug ultra liberal journalists all within 24 hours of each other. It’s a coordinated argument that will stay in the news cycle for 48-72 hours before moving on to something else. The worst part about Hinz was his dismissal of the critical food supply chain issues. They’re euthanizing millions of animals and destroying the carcasses because there aren’t enough plants open to process the meat, which will cause shortages… Read more »

Illinois Entrepreneur
7 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

Right on, debtsor. They reveal their elitism without even realizing it. Very few of these people have lived with true financial insecurity. They don’t understand how debilitating it is. When journalists and elites condescend like this, they are always thinking about poor white people with “backwards” views. It makes it ok for them to look down and make fun. See Rick Wilson, Don Lemon, etc. But a progressive elitist would never be caught dead with this kind of rhetoric towards poor “black and brown communities,” yet those people have basically the same characteristics. It has more to do with class… Read more »

Transparent Illinois
7 months ago

This article estimates layoff related deaths will outnumber covid deaths by 141% –

Why dont the folks with layoff related mental health issues matter to our leaders keeping us sheltering in place?