WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
John Tapogna has a counterintuitive proposal for boosting Oregon's economy: Keep the state closed down longer.
Please understand: Tapogna harbors no illusions about the effects the COVID-19 shutdown is having on Oregon businesses. The president of Portland economic consulting firm ECONorthwest already predicts that the recession sparked by the novel coronavirus will be worse than the Great Recession that began in 2007.
But he says Oregon and other West Coast states may be positioned for a more stable recovery than other places—if they follow the advice of epidemiologists and wait to reopen businesses until the threat of outbreak recedes.
"If it is done coherently," he says, "the I think we as consumers become more confident to come out. And so maybe the restaurants get a little bit more business than they would have otherwise."
His analysis flies in the face of high-profile protests demanding a quick return to normal. But it matches anecdotal reports of businesses rushing to reopen in other states, only to find few citizens feel safe shopping.
In an interview with Mark Zusman, Tapogna talks about how governors and businesses must learn to "dance" with the virus, as well as why Oregon is lucky to be on the West Coast.