DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – As people headed back into public spaces like grocery stores and work, churches and schools, COVID-19 had already cost the United States’ economy trillions of dollars. It was all from the lost jobs and taking care of the sick.

What happens if the latest surge doesn’t come under control and people re-think what to do with their money?

“When you combine that with the falling away federal support, I think we could be in for a very rough fall and the economic recovery could end up slowing significantly into the next part of the year,” said John Quinterno, with Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.

No one wants to go backward. The economy and people’s lives are still working to recover. Will it take another deep financial crisis to get mask naysayers and vaccine deniers to change their minds?

“Increasingly, what we’re gonna see is some political pressure to get vaccinated. I mean, I think whether you’re a Democrat or Republican is sort of irrelevant. I think this is going to come down to economics, quite frankly,” said Dr. Paul Cook, East Carolina University Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases.

Cook reminded people that the cheapest way out of this is right in front of us.

“Vaccinations work, and vaccinations are basically the most cost-effective medical intervention on the planet. That’s beyond a doubt,” Quinterno said, adding that declaring victory too soon can turn to devastating results.

“And every time we go through that cycle, the politics become more partisan and it becomes harder to go back and do the things that worked. And that will weigh on society and further weigh on the economy.”