President Donald Trump appears hellbent on "reopening" the American economy next month, but American University School of Public Affairs law professor David Malet is warning that it won't be the glorious return to normalcy that the president is craving.
Writing in the Washington Post, Malet says that recent research he's conducted has shown that "much of the public will not tolerate any level of risk -- and will not trust experts or officials who tell them that it’s safe to go out again" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Citing a study that he conducted last decade, Malet said that many Americans are likely to stay in quarantine during the pandemic even if they're told that they can go out to bars and restaurants again.
"Three months into the exercise, when presented with choices about which quarantine and decontamination approaches to support, virtually every participant opted to try to bring risk down to zero," he writes. "The goal of the study was to determine public tolerance for acceptable risk. The experiment found that no risk levels were acceptable -- even for participants who initially believed there was no risk."
In fact, Malet found that people were so scared of getting infected that they would refuse to come out even when told the risk was absolutely minimal.
"Nearly half the experiment’s total responses involved our ordinary citizens telling us that no actions -- not even the most extreme efforts -- were enough to reassure them," he writes. "One official told us that a 99.99 percent effective treatment for anthrax, which would have required shutting off the city’s water for one week, was unacceptable because 'I don’t want to be the 0.01 percent who gets anthrax.'"