The Speaker studied the concentration of GDP in the US by county and compared it to the concentration of Covid-19 cases. His chart shows that most economic activity is concentrated in a tiny number of counties relative to the over 3,000 counties in America, which overwhelmingly account for the large number of Covid-19 cases as well.

For example, 79 counties account for 50 percent of GDP and 61 percent of cases; and 181 counties account for 67 percent of GDP and 77 percent of cases.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis and The New York Times

While there is a raging debate concerning when to get back to business, the Speaker said that what matters is not what the US broadly does, but rather what happens in the counties that matter most. “And these counties, if you look at them, are going to be the most difficult to return to normal due to their population density.”

These counties include, in order of GDP contribution: Los Angeles (CA), New York (NY), Cook (IL), Harris (TX), Santa Clara (CA), King (WA), Dallas (TX), Orange (CA), Maricopa (AZ), San Diego (CA), San Francisco (CA), Middlesex (MA), Fulton (GA), Miami (FL), and District of Columbia (DC).

The White House has unveiled new guidelines for states and localities on lifting coronavirus-related restrictions, but governors are empowered to tailor an approach that meets the diverse circumstances of their own state. California’s governor issued a stay-at-home order on March 19 and has not yet shared a timeline for its end. New York will maintain its shutdown through May 15.

A participant noted President Macron’s plan to reopen France, which has some of the toughest lockdown restrictions in Europe. While schools will re-open from May 11, restaurants, hotels, cinemas and cultural sites must stay closed and large events may only be allowed after mid-July. France’s borders with non-EU countries would remain closed.

Singapore managed to successfully keep levels of infection under control early on but has since had to impose a strict lockdown as daily new cases have surged. This bodes poorly for America’s ability to remain open for a long time. A popular Harvard study has argued varying degrees of social distancing will stay with us until 2022, unless we have a vaccine. This also means that policymakers will have to “do more” to support households and businesses through the pandemic.

Photo: Unsplash