The screams and demands to shut everything down to stop CVID-19 can have a bitter echo to the young.
Right now data suggests those under 50 and especially those under 30 are at little risk beyond a moderate case of the flu. The risk falls disproportionately on those 65 or older. The screams “We Must do Anything to stop this!” must sound ironic to a millennials whose chief danger is being carriers. A younger friend asked me a poignant question, “If it were twenty year olds most at risk would there be the same type of reaction?” I would like to say yes, but I feel like I can’t be sure. What I do know is that the young and young families, especially those from lower SES are being asked to bear the burden for the older population once again. There is a difference in orders of magnitude between somebody working at Google working at home or an older person distancing themselves and young families living from paycheck to paycheck all of a sudden having to find (very expensive) childcare, meet their rent in the face of changes, put food on the table. Closing things down is incredibly easy, just turn your eyes away from those it affects. France and Spain and Italy were able to do this because they have a much stronger safety net than we do. One of the things nobody heard about from the Wuhan lockdown was that the Chinese government was trucking in food on a daily basis, keeping prices low, making sure people were not stressed trying to survive. Other provinces sent hundred of doctors and nurses. Charges for health care were dropped.
Some of the mitigating things government could do if they want to “Shut if down” and spread the costs and burdens,
Rent holidays. All rents are cancelled through the crisis.
Gas, Electric, Water, Cable holidays — same
Creating food pantries in every neighborhood. Trucking in fresh food to these neighborhoods (not leftovers but food with high nutritional value). Food should be low cost or free.
For essential services free, high quality childcare. If you shut down schools there will be a lot of space and individuals either willing to volunteer in a crisis or to make extra money.
All non-essential personnel should have their salaries guaranteed. This may sound obvious, but think about the society we are talking about.
Do everything you can to make sure every household has an Internet portal (some type of device) and a broadband connection. This will be difficult because of the extraordinary bias in broadband connections. Still we should try and come as close as possible.
Phone bill holidays and make sure each family has at least one phone (two phones for families with essential personnel)
Free medical care for all through the crisis.
These are just some of the things that need to be done if we demand “We shut it all down.”
Simultaneously. Spread the cost.