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Conservative Voices Urge Congress to End Shutdown

Tired of financial costs, these skeptics demand the nation be re-opened

Testifying at a Senate hearing on the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday afternoon, conservative economist Avik Roy deployed one of President Donald Trump’s favorite metaphors for discussing the outbreak, which has killed more than 71,000 Americans.

“Thirty-seven thousand Americans die each year in traffic fatalities, and yet we don’t shut down the roads,” said Roy, president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity. He called vehicular accidents “a good mental framework for how to live with COVID-19,” referring to the lower respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. That is, there were, in his view, ways to save lives that didn’t require dramatic, society-wide measures. “We expect individual drivers to be responsible for their own conduct and the conduct of passengers. Something similar can work for COVID-19,” he said, describing how businesses could do regular deep-cleanings and people could continue to wash their hands thoroughly and regularly.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., a Trump ally, convened the hearing, titled “COVID-19: How New Information Should Drive Policy.” Billed as a roundtable of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which Johnson chairs, the hearing included some of the nation’s most prominent dissenters on mainstream measures like business closures, stay-at-home orders and calls for widespread testing.

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