• Kudlow says he's been assured a second shutdown will be unnecessary even if cases begin rising again
  • The remarks came as the Labor Department announced the economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April, pushing the unemployment rate to 14.7%
  • Nearly 75,800 Americans have died so far from COVID-19

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Friday the country won’t have to shut down a second time if there’s a resurgence in coronavirus cases as the economy reopens. Numerous states have started lifting strict COVID-19 mitigation restrictions even though the pandemic has yet to peak and widespread testing is wanting.

Nearly 1.26 million coronavirus infections had been confirmed in the U.S. as of late-morning Friday with nearly 75,800 deaths. More than three-quarters of the nation’s governors implemented stay-at-home orders to keep the outbreak from overwhelming hospitals, which were short on ventilators and protective gear for doctors and nurses.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Kudlow said a member of the coronavirus task force had assured him a second nationwide shutdown would be unnecessary even if cases begin climbing as states open for business.

“One of the senior people in that group, now I asked that person what happens -- right now the virus numbers are flattening out. That is a really good thing. That means we can reopen this economy. I asked this person ‘What happens if we get a jump back up in virus numbers?”’ Kudlow said. “And the response was simply ‘Look -- we won’t have to re-shut down because first of all we know more, we have more experience, second of all we are much better equipped with the right tools.”’

He did not name the individual. Public health officials have been warning a second wave of shutdowns might be necessary if infections increase sharply.

Kudlow’s remarks came as the Labor Department reported the economy shed a record 20.5 million jobs in April, pushing the unemployment rate to 14.7%, the highest level since the Great Depression. Since mid-March, Americans have filed more than 33 million initial unemployment claims.

Michael D. Farren, an economist at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, said in an email to IBTimes Friday’s jobless figures are misleading and differ from layoffs in past recessions. Rather than the jobs being lost entirely, the layoffs are more temporary in nature, he said.

“For a variety of reasons, the typical statistics we use to understand the economy are of limited value in a pandemic-driven downturn,” he said, adding a separate “pandemic furlough rate” should be established as “a clearer way to understand the labor market right now.” He estimates, including workers whose hours have been reduced, the furlough rate at 18%.

President Trump has been pushing to get the economy going again despite federal guidelines that say states should not open their economies until infections have been falling for two weeks. He has been predicting a V-shaped economic recovery in the second half of the year.

A study by the Harvard Global Health Institute concluded the U.S. is not doing enough testing to safely reopen the economy.