PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — “All of the economics comes second to the public health,” says Bradley University Assistant Professor of Economics Colin Corbett.
“If we lift a ‘Stay-at-Home’ order prematurely and that leads to an increase in cases and an increase in deaths, then it was not worth it. Anyone saying ‘Oh, we should sacrifice people’s lives in order to keep the economy going, doesn’t understand why we have an economy in the first place. We don’t have an economy to make people rich, we have an economy to provide for their needs and keep them safe and healthy,” Corbett said.
Corbett says part of providing services for people has a lot to do with first responders. He says there are plans for more funding from the federal government.
“The longer stay-at-home order, the more businesses will suffer. There was just more money added to the relief, especially for small businesses, but still probably not enough for all of the pain that small businesses are feeling. the longer the stay-at-home order lasts, not only is that a continuation of loss of revenue, but it’s also going to increase the amount of businesses that have to end,” Corbett said.
Businesses are bracing for the extended impact of the extended shutdown.
Places like salons and barbershops stay closed under the new Order, but Corbett says when the Order lifts, some will see a customer rush because of the pent-up demand. Other people may stay away because of safety concerns.
“In medicine, there’s a lot of pent-up demand. People are choosing to put off any elective surgery or just regular doctor visits because they don’t want to put themselves at risk,” Corbett said.
Corbett says some businesses may not be able to meet the demand come June because they have had to lay-off employees to survive the ‘Stay-at-Home’ Order.
“We’ve had millions of people lose their jobs. Which is going to suppress any demand that they might have for anything,” Corbett said.
“The quote unquote unemployment rate is not up nearly as much, because the unemployment rate only looks at people who are actively unemployed and looking for work. But many people who just lost their jobs aren’t looking for jobs because what’s the point? Any business they could plausibly work at is closed. So that’s a problem with our measurement systems of unemployment,” Corbett added.
And while some businesses may be helped by gradual re-openings of the State, others may not.
“Especially entertainment, sports, or anything that requires large groups of people is especially being hurt. A lot of travel is especially being hurt. If we have a graduated rollback of a stay-at-home order, if we allow restaurants to open up, but we don’t allow gatherings of over 100 people, that’ll help restaurants but that doesn’t help entertainment venues,” Corbett said.
Corbett says opening the State county by county might not be the smartest idea.
While Chicago makes up most of Illinois’ COVID-19 cases and deaths, Corbett says if other counties are prematurely opened, the cases there could very easily rise.
He says opening a few counties could increase the spread across the entire State.
“The Chicago-area is having many cases, so they will probably stay closed longer than other places. But the problem with that, is that as soon as you open up some county, then Chicago residents are going to flock to that count possibly bringing the virus with them,” Corbett said.
He adds the blows to the economy are not going to be loss of revenues, but also people’s individual choices on whether to go to different businesses due to feeling safe or not.
“People are going to continue making decisions about accepting risk of infection, so even if say, we allow gatherings of 100 people, many people are not going to want to be in a crowd of 100 even after the stay-at-home is lifted. So it’s not just government regulations that are choking out these businesses, it’s also people’s informed decision making,” Corbett said.