Reopening the US economy could save 18 million jobs but add over 200,000 coronavirus deaths: Penn Wharton Model

According to the Penn Wharton Budget Model, even if states and cities kept to their current restrictions and social distancing measures, the number of cases in the US could reach 2.25 million by June 30.
According to the Penn Wharton Budget Model, even if states and cities kept to their current restrictions and social distancing measures, the number of cases in the US could reach 2.25 million by June 30.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON - As some US states are reopening their economies and easing their movement restrictions, a projection by the University of Pennsylvania suggested that relaxing lockdowns by the end of June may save 18 million jobs but could add over 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

According to the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM), even if states and cities kept to their current restrictions and social distancing measures, the number of coronavirus cases in the US could reach 2.25 million by June 30, with deaths totalling over 116,000.

This will also see job losses totalling 18.6 million.

But if the states reopen all its businesses and lift emergency declarations, stay-at-home orders as well as school closures, PWBM predicts a worst-case scenario of eight million Covid-19 cases and nearly 350,000 deaths in the same period.

However, it said "almost all net job losses between May 1 and June 30 would be eliminated".

A full reopening combined with Americans abandoning any social distancing measures will see 24.6 million cases and over 950,000 deaths, PWBM projects. On the flip side, there will be a gain of 4.1 million jobs.

A partial reopening will also cause cases and death toll to rise. PWBM projects that if the US were to open up partially, it will register 3.33 million coronavirus cases with 161,664 deaths, while job losses will be at 11.3 million.

The number of deaths projected by PWBM is higher than what US President Donald Trump has said.

The US leader previously claimed the death toll from coronavirus will be around 60,000.

On Sunday (May 4), he acknowledged that the virus has proved more devastating than expected.

"We're going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people," Mr Trump said. "That's a horrible thing. We shouldn't lose one person over this."

The pandemic has also wiped out all the job gains in the US since the Great Recession from December 2007 to June 2009, with more than 26 million Americans having filed for unemployment benefits over the past five weeks.

 
 
 

However, an internal government document forecasts that new coronavirus cases will surge to 200,000 per day by June 1, and the daily death toll to 3,000, according to both The New York Times and The Washington Post.

That compares to a current daily average of 25,000-30,000 new cases, and 1,500-2,000 deaths.

Currently, the US has 1.18 million cases and nearly 69,000 deaths.