Minneapolis Fed Chief Fears 18 Months Of ‘Rolling’ Shutdowns In COVID-19 Fight

The U.S. could face 18 months of “rolling” COVID-19 flareups and economic shutdowns until a vaccine or an effective treatment is developed, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis warned Sunday.

As officials around the world ”relax the economic controls, the virus flares back up again,” Neel Kashkari noted on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“We could have these waves of flareups, controls, flareups and controls until we actually get a therapy or a vaccine,” he said. “I think we should all be focusing on an 18-month strategy for our health-care system and our economy.”

This “could be a long, hard road that we have ahead of us until we get to either an effective therapy or a vaccine. It’s hard for me to see a V-shaped recovery under that scenario,” he added, referring to a model in which the U.S. bottoms out before rocketing back to where it was.

“We need to find ways of getting the people who are healthy, who are at lower risk, back to work, and then providing the assistance to those who are most at risk, who are going to need to be quarantined or isolated for the foreseeable future,” he said. “That’s a real challenge for all of us.”

President Donald Trump has indicated he believes the economy could be off and running as early as May 1. Earlier, he had planned for an Easter date to lift controls. 

Trump’s top health adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that a “gradual,” partial reopening of the economy could begin in May. But he warned that an outbreak could flare up again in the fall.

A study last month from Imperial College in London recommended an 18-month shutdown period — at least intermittently — to protect against COVID-19 until a vaccine or treatment can be developed. It also warned, however, that “the social and economic effects of the measures … will be profound.”

Some 16 million people have filed for U.S. unemployment benefits in the last three weeks.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell cautioned on Thursday that the economic slowdown from COVID-19 was striking with “alarming speed.”

Check out Kashkari’s interview in the video up top.

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