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Let’s Get America Back to Work, Safely and Quickly

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Over the past month, I have been trying to offer suggestions based on my business background for what we need to do to get in front of this crisis. They have included:

  • Proposing the Temporary Income Replacement Act calling for a direct government payment of $3,000 to every citizen in the country. 

  • Making the case for universal virus testing, 

  • Wearing masks in all public settings

  • Comprehensive early and prophylactic treatment using Hydroxychloroquine and other effective and safe drugs. 

  • Privatizing  the process for producing and distributing the medication because the bureaucratic top-down approach doesn't work as well as the marketplace.  

Up until this point, my suggestions haven’t been taken. I’m not surprised. After all, I’m an entrepreneur, not a politician or a CDC employee. 

Fair enough. Let me stick to what I know. 

If the American economy doesn’t get back to work soon and replace this viral contagion with a “demand contagion,” all of the lives we are trying to save, along with millions of others, are going to be permanently damaged or destroyed. The question is: How can we get back to work and have 100% certainty that the virus is under control?

Sadly, we can’t. We have lost a lot of time hiding behind clinical protocols and state governments playing politics with testing, prevention, and treatment. Now the hour is late. So late that my suggestions are almost obsolete. “Almost” being the operative term.

Allow me to suggest a modified approach to my previous proposals. We should:

  1. Reopen the American economy on or about May 1 and allow employers and employees to set standards for workplace safety.

  2. Rapidly build a universal testing program that starts with people identified as being “high risk” 

  3. Return the ability to prescribe treatment to individual doctors and let them prescribe based on reported symptomatology. 

  4. Make a direct payment of $3,000 to each individual. If you don’t need your $3,000, give it to someone who does. 

I’m not alone in pointing out these concerns and offering these kinds of ideas. Christopher Jacobs writing in The Federalist has made similar points. Even the “Wolf of Wall Street,” Jordan Belfort, has posted a video suggesting enough is enough. We are running out of time to act.

We can’t wait for bureaucratically drawn-out bailout programs or promises of second waves of relief. We certainly don’t have time to wait as long as two years for a vaccine as some have suggested. The American economy is perilously close to the aviator’s “point of no return.” We can’t save our country if we tear it down to the point where there is nothing left to save.

J.P. Morgan economists have just issued a forecast that the nation’s GDP will contract by 40% and that unemployment will increase to 20% or 25 million people. Just today I saw a line at a food distribution center that was three cars wide and miles deep. We are only a few weeks into this. What happens when the lines get too long? What happens when there isn’t enough food for those in line? We can’t afford to wait to find out.

People don’t need to feel 100% safe in order to return to a productive life. What they need to know is that our government is doing everything it can to make them as safe as possible, as soon as possible. Nothing, after all is 100 percent risk free. Not business, not your health, not getting behind the wheel of a car. 

In addition, they also need to be able to count on being told the truth about developments in testing and treatment; no matter how good or bad the news. My friend Charlie Kirk points out the unfairness of binary choices. His point is that framing policy matters in that context is dishonest and intellectually lazy. It leads to fighting, not problem solving. The situation we face today is not a binary choice between GDP and death. 

Ask yourself: Can Americans show enough courage to go back to work, taking reasonable precautions, while they wait for the market to get them protection just as soon as possible? I believe they can. I believe Americans want to step up and will step up to do what’s necessary to help preserve the future for their children and grandchildren.

I have two millennial children of my own. I’m willing to take measured risks and step back into the workforce in order to fight for their future. I don’t expect 100 percent certainty. I expect the government to have my back when I do. I’m asking you to join me.

Jeff Webb is an internationally renowned entrepreneur, founder of Varsity Brands—a global sports empire, President of the International Cheer Union, and a business, politics and culture commentator featured in outlets such as Newsweek, The Washington Times, Forbes, ESPN, and more.

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