As all U.S. states begin to reopen, the country seeks to restore jobs for the tens of millions newly unemployed but a spike in coronavirus cases in some major U.S. states has raised fear of a second wave of the virus.
In a newly released interview, taped on Tuesday, Dell Technologies (DELL) CEO Michael Dell said that the reopening of the U.S economy amid the novel coronavirus is going “reasonably well,” but warned that reopening should take into account the greater risk faced by vulnerable populations.
“If you’d asked me a month or so ago, I would have said, ‘It’s going to be slow and gradual,’” he says. “I guess I’m feeling a little more optimistic now, having seen some of the reopening things, and they seem to be going reasonably well.”
When the spread of the virus became widely known in March, states moved to close businesses and prevent large gatherings. By mid-April, 316 million people in at least 42 states were being urged to stay home by local or state orders, the New York Times reported. Meanwhile, more than 40 million people filed for unemployment in the span of 10 weeks.
Tension over how to reopen the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus outbreak has embroiled the nation in recent weeks, as President Donald Trump criticized the restrictions and differed publicly with the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, over how to weigh public health risks against economic pain.
A surprising jobs report last Friday showed the U.S. had added nearly 2.5 million jobs in May, after shedding over 20 million jobs in the month prior. Florida and South Carolina have reported recent spikes in cases, but the the full public health impact of the reopening remains unknown.
“I’m pretty encouraged with what I’m seeing about about the restart,” Dell says.
Dell made the remarks in an episode of Yahoo Finance’s “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
At age 19, Dell founded his first business called PC’s Limited. He renamed the company Dell Computer Corporation and took it public four years later. Today, the company has a market cap of over $36 billion.
While optimistic about the reopening, Dell warned that additional exposure could imperil the health of populations at greater risk of contracting a severe case of the virus. Older Americans and people of color have disproportionately suffered the effects of the pandemic.
“It’s also becoming clear that it has a disparate impact on certain populations and and so that has to be accounted for as we think about restarting the economy,” Dell says.
Urging optimism but caution, Dell pointed to the impact of the virus in his home state of Texas, where there have been 83,772 coronavirus cases and 1,942 deaths, as of Friday morning. On Wednesday, the state reported 2,500 new cases, its highest one-day total since the outbreak began, according to the New York Times.
“Here in Texas, for example, there has not been the horrible public health care outcome,” he says. “There’s still kind of cautious steps being taken in the reopening.”