Sen. John Kennedy Says World Economy Will Collapse If the U.S. Is Not Reopened

Senator John Kennedy said the U.S. economy would have to reopen to prevent a global economic slump, accepting that the novel coronavirus would spread faster when shutdowns end.

The Republican congressman told Fox News on Wednesday that a failure to reopen businesses would see the U.S. economy collapse and bring the world economy down with it.

But he also recognized that any decision to return life to some normality amid the COVID-19 pandemic would be difficult, saying it was like "choosing between cancer and a heart attack."

Speaking on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Sen. Kennedy said: "Here's the way I say it. The American people are not morons. They understand what I'm about to say, and at some point we're going to have to trust them.

"Number one, very soon the can is going to run out of road. We've got to open this economy. If we don't, it's going to collapse. And if the U.S. economy collapses, the world economy collapses.

Sen. John Kennedy After Coronavirus Briefing
Sen. John Kennedy talks to reporters after attending briefing from administration officials on the coronavirus, on Capitol Hill February 25, 2020 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

"Trying to burn down the village to save it is foolish. That's a cold, hard truth."

The GOP congressman accepted that COVID-19 would spread faster when the country was taken out of its current lockdown.

"We've got to be smart about how we do it," he said. "Don't open up in the middle of a hotspot. Encourage your elderly and those with pre-existing conditions to stay quarantined and provide them financial support."

Sen. Kennedy went on to say people should carry on wearing masks and practice social distancing once shutdowns were lifted.

He also said it would be necessary for authorities to ensure the country had the healthcare capacity to deal with lockdown being lifted, and further recommended the use of technology to track those who have been exposed to the disease while still respecting privacy.

"This is like choosing between cancer and a heart attack," Kennedy later added. "It's a miserable choice."

The senator issued his call for the U.S. economy to be reopened a week after it was revealed that 10 percent of the U.S. labor force had made unemployment claims in just three weeks.

Department of Labor data showed that an unprecedented 6.6 million people made initial claims for unemployment benefit in the week ending April 4. In the two weeks before, a little more than 10 million also sought jobless insurance.

David Wilcox, a former director of the Federal Reserve Board's Division of Research and Statistics, told Newsweek that the unemployment figures were at a "level previously unimaginable."

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the U.S. have also reached significant levels. At the time of writing, more than 639,000 cases of the disease have been confirmed in America. According to Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 tracker, a total of 30,985 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. along with 52,738 total recoveries.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.