Going to respond to each of the replies. Please know that I am not saying any of this to be argumentative - in fact we are all on the same page, I assure you, but I have to play devil's advocate here:
This. 1,000 times this. I find those Republican politicians saying that it's better to let older Covid victims die rather than allow social distancing to run the economy into the ground to be utterly sociopathic and stupid. I find them sociopathic because, duh, they want a bunch of people to die and I find them stupid because if tens of thousands of people die, then the economy is going to crater anyway just because so many people who had been contributing to the economy can't contribute anymore because they're frickin' dead. Just as MP-Ryan said, the economic damage from the coronavirus is locked in, no matter what we do. All that can be done now is to mitigate the damage as best we can. Republicans can either help Democrats do just that, or get out of the way. If they don't get out of the way, then they'll have to face angry voters in November.
I don't know that I've heard anyone suggest one of those two extremes. I think the Texas governor several weeks ago mentioned there would be a point where older individuals or those more at risk (underlying health conditions, etc) would, at some point, be responsible for their own safety, in that they'd need to be the ones staying home, and avoiding exposure.
But there's something else I want to mention here. Whether we like it or not, there is a point
where we do
put a price on life. Let me illustrate:
If I were to tell you that unless every non-essential American (of which there are tens and tens of millions) stays home from work, 100,000 people would likely die each day - it would be a complete no-brainer. Obviously everyone would stay home.
What if the number of people that would die each day were 50,000? Probably everyone would still stay home.
But there's a point where the cost of the cure is more expensive
... if I said that unless every one of the tens of millions of Americans stays home, 10 people would die each day? Or 5? Would you still do it? Of course not. Human life has a price - sorry to say - but that's just the reality. And while many of us are fortunate to not have to worry about being able to work from home, there is a large percentage of the workforce that "stay home" means "i don't get to feed my family". Remember they aren't going to get stimulus checks every month indefinitely. $1200 only goes so far when your income is zero.
Also one more thing you mentioned - "if tens of thousands of people die, then the economy is going to crater anyway just because so many people who had been contributing to the economy can't contribute anymore because they're frickin' dead".
While that may make sense on paper, statistically, the majority of those that are dying (by FAR) are actually not contributing to the economy at all. They're on social security and medicare. They're our older fathers, mothers, those with serious underlying health conditions, etc. Most have actually been a drain on the economy. Again - I take no joy in saying that, but playing devil's advocate, we aren't losing a high percentage of younger, healthy, working Americans, that are contributing to the economy. So while I will argue the ethics
side of it in your favor any day, the pure economic
side, which you alluded to, is not valid.
This isn't actually true. The choices currently are:
1. Measures that are designed to prevent healthcare system collapse, but an economic collapse, or
2. Healthcare collapse AND economic collapse.
There is no magic third option where we mitigate economic damage. The economic damage comes with us either way.
True, but I'm sure you'll agree that "economic damage" is not binary. There are certainly differing levels.
Example: Shutting down the economy for a week vs. shutting down the economy for 6 months. Both "economic damage", but exponentially different.
Plus, you know, losing your job isn't a disaster in the same way that permanent lung damage is. All these problems with unemployment can be solved, just not in ways that appeal to Republican politicians.
Spoken like someone that is not struggling to put food on the table. "All these problems with unemployment can be solved" is (if I may, respectfully) a very, very
nonchalant way of looking at a situation where countless millions (keywords) of people are reaching a point (if they haven't already reached it) where they are unable to pay their rent, buy medicine, put food on the table, etc. Often they have children. It's very important to step back and look at a situation like this from every vantage point. Not all are as fortunate as we may be. I've had some of the guys I know that work blue-collar warehouse jobs already call asking if I have any food in my freezer that they can have, promising me they'll pay me back some day. It's absolutely devastating. Don't for a second
dismiss "these problems with unemployment". 99.9% of married men with young children who have to watch their family do without would take the risk of permanent lung damage in a heartbeat to put food on the table.