ATLANTA (CBS46)-- What would it take to restart the economy? One local economist says it starts with the public's confidence in treating COVID-19.

"With this shelter in place and social distancing, we have now spent about 6-8 weeks on building our health portfolio we've put sweat equity in that. You're not about to squander it or give it away without knowing what you'll get in return. So that's why people are hesitant," explains Dr. Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University.

Dhawan notes that Atlanta is particularly hit off by recent layoffs because of the strong hospitality industry. "The hotels downtown are not going to open up until there are conventions coming to town that can have 100 to 200 to 500 people." Without large events, there is a trickle down effect to other businesses, like restaurants and transit.

"I would say right now there is a recession going on like what happened in 2008-2009 in two years has happened in 4 weeks." Dhawan says no one knows when the economy will spring back. "Turning off the economy like a switch turned out to be easier. Turning it on, the issue is will you and me be willing to interact with other human beings the way we were two months ago? And that's a big unknown."

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