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Rising COVID-19 Cases, European Lockdowns Raise Specter of Further Lockdowns

  • A second wave of COVID-19 cases is prompting renewed lockdowns in Europe as a third wave hits the United States
  • Authorities have implemented small-scale lockdowns and restrictions in the United States in response to localized outbreaks
  • Higher case counts pose risk of interfering with economic recovery

With a second wave of COVID-19 cases washing over Europe, several nations have imposed curfews, lockdowns, and other restrictions in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. This response is prompting concerns that similar actions may be forthcoming in the United States as it grapples with its own surge of COVID-19 infections.

Economists have said the European lockdowns increase the risk of a double-dip recession, reversing the economic recovery made in the euro zone as it pulled its way out of the first wave of cases earlier this year. Political leaders have acknowledged the economic cost of renewed restrictions, with Irish Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar estimating that the country’s new lockdown could lead to an economic loss of $1.78 billion and put 150,000 people out of work.

The U.S. is considered to be in a third wave of COVID-19 infections following previous waves in the spring and summer, although some disease experts say that the nation is actually still in the midst of its first wave. There was never a national stay-at-home order issued in the U.S., and the size of the nation and major differences in state policies inhibited efforts to control the virus.

Any new restrictions have been localized, such as an order in New York City closing non-essential businesses and schools in the COVID-19 hotspots of Brooklyn and Queens. Connecticut recently moved to Phase 3 of its reopening plan, but soon allowed local officials to adopt more stringent restrictions if necessary. The state’s infection rate has neared 3 percent after remaining below 1 percent for much of the summer.

The increase in cases has concerned some business owners, who fear that further restrictions could reduce their chances of survival. Business owners are already facing challenges such as the arrival of the slower winter season, an uncertain holiday shopping season, and slow progress on a new federal stimulus bill.


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