Beware: Coronavirus Can Cause Tunnel Vision

Deaths from unintended consequences are hard to count, but they must still count

Put differently, recessions, depressions, and unemployment take lives too.

How many lives? We’ll never know precisely, and the data are much debated. In the movie The Big Short, Brad Pitt’s character says that “every one percent unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die” — a sobering formula given that unemployment could jump to 30% in the coming months. Hollywood scripts are not science journals, but the BBC fact-checked the claim, and concluded it was a reasonable estimate.

But it’s not just life preservation we care about — we also care about the things that make life worth living.

We care about our children’s education, and having a billion kids out of school is a problem. We care about families, and should be troubled by early reports of quarantine leading to the breakup of families. We care about the elderly, who are more isolated than ever. We care about the victims of domestic abuse, now holed up with their abusers. We care about the growing mental health toll evidenced by skyrocketing calls to help hotlines.

CEO & Co-founder of Lemonade

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