'Not going to be flipping a switch:' Gov. Evers, expert panel discuss paths to re-open economy

MILWAUKEE -- The big question on everyone's mind during the coronavirus pandemic: When will life get back to normal?

Gov. Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers this week participated in a webinar where experts weighed in on the impact that the pandemic has on the economy and what they think needs to happen before businesses can re-open.

On Tuesday, financial experts predicted the global economy in 2020 will likely suffer its worst year since the Great Depression. Gov. Evers discussed the topic on the state level and said getting life back to normal will be based on the path of the pandemic.

"It's not going to be flipping a switch," Gov. Evers said. "Public health is going to look different it has to look different...How we know we're at that place is going to be on the science."

Dr. John Raymond

Medical experts warned of a "boomerang" effect of the deadly virus. Dr. John Raymond with the Medical College of Wisconsin gave a list of five "must-haves" for life to get back to normal.

"With regard to re-opening the economy, we should do so thoughtfully collaboratively and in phases," said Raymond. "We must have a sustained and durable decline of new cases of COVID-19 in our state and the affected regions. We must not exceed the non-surge or pre-COVID capacity of our health systems."

Raymond also noted the need for adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for health providers, adequate testing and a "robust public health surveillance capacity" among the must-haves.

Experts said the financial recovery from the pandemic will also depend on the consumer.

Mary Ellen Stanek

"If you look economically, confidence is critical," Mary Ellen Stanek, managing director and chief investment officer of Baird Advisors, said.

The good news is, Wisconsin already seems to be heading in the right direction.

"In terms of flattening the curve, Wisconsin ranks in the top 10 states as far as improving from where we started," Raymond said.

The panel also recommended that businesses think about hand-washing upon entry and temperature checks when they are able to re-open. Medical experts said it is crucial that the public continues to practice social distancing until there is a vaccine available, which is likely about 12 months away from being ready.