In his post in the current thread "From a nurse in Michigan," Pratoman states"We are in a no win situation right now. And I fear that the longer this goes, the more chance that even the “smart” governors will feel they have no choice but to open up their economies. It would be a disastrous result. And yet the result of keeping things on lockdown would also be disastrous."
But I imagine that Pratoman is just saying what we have all been thinking, that in the process of controlling this pandemic, society will have to be making a grim decision, sooner or later, on "trade-off": saving lives versus saving jobs.
Naturally there are numerous articles starting to appear on the web in an effort to reach an answer to this very serious and very difficult question.
Here's one, an economics article I found, which is a bit of a heavy read because of its highly technical approach to the question, but which I also found quite interesting because of the conclusion it reaches, and the solution to this problem that it suggests:https://blogs.worldbank.org/developmenttalk/there-trade-between-lives-and-incomes-response-covid-19
It states the problem:"There have been (at least) two kinds of reactions to this postulated trade-off (between lives and jobs). Most human beings tend to be shocked that one could even think of a trade-off between incomes and human lives. Surely, they argue, human lives should take absolute priority. A smaller subset of human beings, consisting of most economists (and a few prominent politicians), nod their heads gravely and try to look for an optimal choice somewhere in between."
But then says later on:"There is no right or wrong “relative price” of human life. Unlike the price of tomatoes or airplanes, it is a normative matter. One on which policymakers would be well advised to seek to explicitly elicit – and then follow – the dominant preferences in their societies."
This is confirmed later:" ... the “rate” at which societies are prepared to sacrifice human lives to save jobs and incomes is a normative matter. In a democracy, policymakers – and the economists advising them – would do well to listen to the people."
What the mechanics of "listening to the people" would be, whether numerical ("We just hit 25% unemployment, and the people agree that we must now re
open the economy") ("We are approaching 100,000 fatalities, and the people agree that we must increase social distancing, despite its effect on the economy"), or subjective (such as simply gauging public sentiment through a poll or a vote) is unclear.
But even if a numerical approach were to be used, it should in one way or another be derived from "listening to the people," according to the article.
So the path we should follow in dealing with this pandemic should be determined not by directives from health experts or politicians, but by the people themselves, presumably through some reliable means of discovering the people's true choice.
It may come down to that. But, again, I find it interesting that as technical and complex as the above economics article is, it still concludes that "listening to the people" is the way to go.
Or maybe that's the way it should be.