Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who dumped $25 million in stocks after receiving a classified briefing on the coronavirus outbreak just before the market crashed, called on President Donald Trump to reopen the American economy to avoid throwing it into a recession or depression, saying that “death is an unavoidable part of life.”
“What more people are saying is that as we learn more about COVID-19, we should evaluate the total societal cost of this awful disease and try to put things into perspective,” Johnson said in a USA TODAY op-ed article published Sunday.
The Wisconsin senator drew a parallel between the tens of thousands of Americans who die by suicide and from drug overdoses each year, adding that “that level of individual despair has occurred in a strong economy.
Johnson, who sits on the Commerce and Homeland Security committees, also made a comparison to last year’s “exceptionally bad” flu season and said Americans shouldn’t overreact.
“Death is an unavoidable part of life,” he said.
The spread of the virus has shut down swaths of the American economy and put it on course for a recession, experts have said. That led President Donald Trump to sign a $2 trillion economic stimulus package to extend emergency federal aid to people and businesses alike.
Trump said last week that he wanted to reopen the economy by Easter, on April 12. It would have been roughly three weeks after the administration put in place federal guidelines urging Americans to avoid traveling, eating out at restaurants, and gathering with more than 10 people.
But as of Monday, the US had recorded over 143,000 coronavirus cases, the most in the world. Infectious-disease experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have said that over 100,000 Americans could die, even with aggressive action to slow the virus’ spread.
On Sunday evening, Trump extended the social-distancing guidelines until April 30.