(7/2 Copy) An illustrated Lady Liberty with her hair down sits while reading a book that says 'Stay Home' on the cover (copy)

Opinion columnist John Harris discusses the impacts of a second economic shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opinion

As other states have begun to pause and revert their reopening plans, Kansas is faced with an uncomfortable possibility. The Kansas Department of Health may need to backtrack on its phased reopening and regress into elimination of nonessential business. While this may be the safest course of action to undertake in the name of public health, it will be considerably more difficult this time around due to virus fatigue and lack of income.

Cases of COVID-19 are growing at an unprecedented rate. Data shows 49,932 new cases were reported on July 1, a major uptick from the April high of 36,738 confirmed cases. This represents a trend that could continue to grow if left unchecked. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently predicted the daily totals could balloon to the amount of 100,000 new cases every single day. This is a massive number that exacerbates one of the deadliest disasters in U.S. history.

Governments are starting to ease their citizens back into socially distanced restrictions across the nation. Douglas County and Kansas have already begun to fall back and place holds on some of their restrictions. Following a COVID-19 outbreak at The Hawk, county health authorities mandated that all bars in their jurisdiction be shuttered due to the high risk of infection. 

This announcement is troubling news to students that expect an on-schedule return to in-person classes. What happens when there is an outbreak on campus? Many of the on-campus plans that have been developed by University of Kansas administrators will be rendered useless if the curve continues to rise.

Going back into lockdown is a drastic measure and not an easy choice. Historically, the Spanish Flu had three distinct waves that defined the pandemic. The second wave was, by far, the most deadly.

Convincing the general public to accept more restrictions is a daunting task. People have grown restless after the cancellation of most facets of everyday society in March, April and May. Americans have been yearning for an end to self-isolation and a return to summer activities. Some have reported symptoms of  “quarantine fatigue,” which refers to the emotions of restlessness and anxiety that many feel while sheltering-in-place. 

A renewed lockdown could have devastating effects on the financial situations of non-essential workers. Since March, most American taxpayers have received only one $1,200 stimulus check. Many college students whose parents have remained claiming them as dependents have not received any financial relief. If a lockdown were to occur, it is necessary that a succeeding bill to the CARES Act be passed promptly. If this does not happen, it is likely that our nation would plunge further into an economic crisis. 

While a new lockdown is not likely to occur soon, it may be on the horizon in the near future. We have witnessed reopening efforts fail and need to be retracted. However, we must keep in mind the devastating effects that a shelter-in-place order have had on our mental health and personal finances. A plan needs to be put into place to ensure that Americans are protected.

John Harris is a sophomore from Shawnee studying political science.