Have you ever tried running through water? You don’t get very far very fast. If you have water up to your waist, and you try to run, your progress is very slow. Sure, you could put in more effort and maybe try to improve your technique to run faster through water.
Swimming through the water could be another option for improvement. If your goal is to move faster, it is likely better to get out of the water and run without the resistance of water. In some cases, a better way to look at the situation might be that you first drain the water and then run.
To improve, it is important to understand what you are trying to achieve. Then you need to think properly about the systems you are in, and what systems you are interacting with, to figure out how to go about improvement. Trying to solve the wrong problem makes improvement much more difficult.
Looking at the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the economy and thinking you need to accept the prevalence of COVID-19 as a given and just trying to think of how to “run faster,” is not an ineffective way to improve the economy (to say nothing of all the lives that will be lost and all the long-term health consequences of those who recover from a bout with COVID-19). Looking critically at the problem, it seems to me that the correct strategy is to focus on how to remove the resistance of the “water” (COVID-19).
While that means the progress is slowed while you address the COVID-19 problem, you will then create conditions that allow for success. Also by acknowledging the priority, you can then spend your efforts on dealing with the problems of getting the countermeasures to COVID-19 successfully implemented. The failure of the USA to properly use masks, eliminate indoor gatherings (such as bars, restaurants…) and to react to new infections quickly (which requires enough testing, that provides accurate results within 24 hours and with proper contact tracing and responses to what it learned to reduce spread) has caused great harm. And we have learned that getting the sensible measures adopted will take much more effort than we might have thought before we had seen how we have behaved the last 6 months.
To focus on improving the economy, the primary focus has to be on reducing the presence of COVID-19 (removing the water). No matter how you try to run faster while in the water, it is just not possible to be very effective. If the water is up to your ankles, you can run nearly as well as if there was no water. But with it up to your waist, it doesn’t really matter how much effort you put into running better; you can’t be effective.
Knowing what problem you need to work on solving is often more difficult than it seems. You need to understand the systems that are involved and how they interact to know where you should focus your efforts. It seems to me we are making a big mistake by not putting nearly all our focus on trying to improve the economy by focusing on reducing the prevalence of COVID-19. Just like someone trying to run better through waist-high water, it is much more effective to put efforts into reducing the resistance the “water” creates, even if that means you make little progress for awhile. You just won’t be effective until that condition is changed. And putting your efforts into running better or harder instead of changing the situation is the wrong strategy.