A way to earlier economic recovery
...or at least partial economic recovery. As a physician, it has long been my humble opinion that a reasonable response to COVID-19 would be for our government to strongly urge anyone over 65 with medical co-morbidities to strictly stay at home, self-quarantine, and become compulsive hand-hygiene and disinfection Nazis! And then I'd allow everyone else — with some relatively few exceptions noted below — to pretty much go about their daily lives, while continuing to voluntarily observe the commonsense protective measures we're all very familiar with by now.
At this point in time, we have a pretty solid way to test the efficacy and safety of such an approach. We already have a study group readily available. For the last two-plus months, a substantial number of Americans have indeed continued to go about their daily business while observing commonsense protective measures. An off-the-cuff list would include such people as clerical and administrative health care workers, bank workers, supermarket employees, gas station and convenience store employees, tire and auto repair shop employees, delivery service employees, truck-drivers, and utility workers — and a large number of local, state, and federal government employees.
Why not take a retrospective look at all these types of workers and see what their infection risks and rates have turned out to be? Anecdotally, I haven't heard of such workers becoming the victims of large spikes of COVID-19. So if the disease transmission rates and medical outcomes for those workers practicing commonsense mitigation measures have been reasonable, it would provide useful information that might justify allowing most Americans in the younger, lower-risk groups to head back to work sooner rather than later.
In fact, ideally, I would hope such targeted surveillance and analysis of people who have had to keep working has been going on since the beginning of the pandemic. I just haven't heard of any such studies.
Regardless of the findings, we'd still probably want to keep schools closed for the present time and continue to prohibit large closely packed crowds. But life could go on without movies, the NBA, MLB, rock concerts, etc.
Yes, it would be a calculated risk. But opening up the economy will involve a calculated risk no matter when it happens. At least this type of study would give us some real-world data upon which to weigh that risk. Admittedly, such an approach may even unfortunately result in some number of additional COVID-19 deaths. But a destroyed economy can result in deaths, too.