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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Health officials have been stressing that social distancing needs to continue in the United States for as long as it is necessary. But President Donald Trump, CNN is reporting, is hoping to reopen the U.S. economy as soon as early May and to do so with a "big bang" — even though it remains to be seen what the coronavirus pandemic will be doing at that point.

CNN's Mark Liptak reports, "Officials said the options being discussed on reopening the country vary widely in scope, from recommendations on benchmarks for when individual states can begin easing restrictions to a nationwide 'big bang' that Trump previewed Tuesday evening on Fox News. Still, some officials have even begun mulling the type of event Trump may want to mark the day when nationwide restrictions are lifted after he suggested a 'big celebration' when the crisis is over."

Health officials, however, have been warning that if social distancing measures are eased prematurely, it could make the death toll from coronavirus even higher than it has to be — which would be terrible for the economy. And proponents of aggressive social distancing have pointed out that while keeping millions of brick-and-mortar businesses shut down throughout this month is tough on the economy, insufficient social distancing could hurt the economy and the health of the country even more.

Most Americans are worried about the possibility of social distancing measures being eased too soon, according to CNN. A newly released CNN poll found that 60 percent of Americans would feel uncomfortable returning to their usual routines if social distancing guidelines were lifted after April 30. In other words, many Americans might opt to practice social distancing on their own regardless of what guidelines Trump has in May.

It isn't hard to understand why many Americans, as CNN's poll indicates, might choose social distancing on their own even if Trump isn't asking for it: according to researchers for John Hopkins University in Baltimore, at least 13,000 people have died from coronavirus in the U.S. so far (Hopkins reported more than 85,000 coronavirus-related deaths worldwide). And Hopkins' numbers, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, are likely to increase substantially in the weeks ahead.

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.c