Economy

Cramer says, 'We've got to try something' as Georgia, other states begin to reopen

Key Points
  • "They're not waiting, because it's not working to wait," CNBC's Jim Cramer said. 
  • Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that several types of businesses would be allowed to open at the end of the week.
  • Cramer said the Georgia plan seemed sensible and that the state's medical system seemed to be prepared if cases did spike after the attempt to reopen.
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States like Georgia should experiment with reopening their economies from their coronavirus shutdowns in order to save small businesses, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Tuesday, calling it "the biggest story there is." 

"I'm in the camp that just says, 'We've got to try something.' We have to. And if that makes me into a right-wing lunatic, then so be it," Cramer said on "Squawk on the Street."

Business closures around the country, designed to curb the spread of the virus, has led to a record rise in unemployment, with over 22 million Americans filing for first-time jobless benefits in the past four weeks.

Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that several types of businesses, including hair salons and gyms, would be allowed to open at the end of the week. Other states with GOP governors, including Ohio, Tennessee and Florida, are also planning partial reopening in the coming weeks.

Cramer said Georgia's plan seemed sensible and that the state's medical system seemed to be prepared if cases did spike after an attempt to reopen.

"Initially when I saw this, I said this governor is a reckless fellow," the "Mad Money" host said. "The more I read [Kemp's] excellent speech yesterday and the more I realized that the stakes are so high for so many people, I am rooting for this man. I think he's doing it in a way that makes me feel like if you're going to open it, open it this way."

However,  Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who was commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under President Donald Trump, questioned Kemp's moves.

"It feels like they collected a list of the businesses that were most risky and decided to open those first," he said on "Squawk Box." "I think that we should try to focus on trying to bring people back to work in factories, offices first." 

More than 788,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the United States, including at least 42,374 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University on Tuesday morning.

Cramer said despite the risk of another strict closure, the economy should be reopened now because of the issues small businesses are facing, including the Payroll Protection Program authorized by Congress running out of money

"There has been a view ... that if we had to be closed and then reopen and fail, it would be catastrophic. All I've got to say is, catastrophic for who? Catastrophic for what? We've got a catastrophic situation going on right now," Cramer said.

Cramer, who owns two restaurants in Brooklyn, said he had wanted political leaders to wait to reopen businesses until there was more of a medical solution, like a vaccine or widespread antibody testing but now believes that opening more quickly is the better strategy. "It's not working to wait."

Correction: Cramer made his comments on Tuesday.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.