The president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis said while the coronavirus pandemic has crippled the economy, it could quickly rebound if everyone gets tested for the virus.
James Bullard, speaking on a webcast with the St. Louis Regional Chamber Tuesday (April 14), said closing non-essential businesses is appropriate for now but it’s a “crazy inefficient policy,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“Widespread testing of everybody in the economy would put an end to this crisis,” he said. “We can’t get there right now but this is costing us $25 billion a day.”
Short of universal testing of the nation’s 328 million Americans, he said, one solution is for employers to take workers’ temperatures daily, as they do at hospitals.
“Ideally you would be able to test everybody,” Bullard said.
Once the COVID-19 infection numbers start to drop, while there’s still no vaccine, he said the goal should be to get healthy employees back to work while keeping the public safe.
“You don’t really want to go back to this quarantine policy in the future if you don’t have to,” he said.
He said once infection rates decline, the unemployment rate will as well.
Jump-starting the nation’s economy cannot be done by a politician making an announcement, he said. Instead, it will happen when the public and employers can figure out ways to get back to normal while “knowing this disease is out there,” he said.
“We are going to have to get innovative on how to provide a safe work environment knowing this disease is out there and we are not going to have a vaccine in the short term,” he said.
Bullard’s remarks come as the president and the nation’s governors begin talks on when to reopen the economy.
One thing seems clear. Small businesses can’t last much longer. They are expected to run out of cash in 113 days on average, according to PYMNTS research.
Last week, the Federal Reserve said it would offer as much as $2.3 trillion in loans to shore up small to mid-sized businesses, U.S. households and local governments through a series of new and expanded programs aimed at battling the continuing effects of the coronavirus.