Biden coronavirus adviser says four- to six-week lockdown in US is necessary to revive economy and lower cases


A member of apparent President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force advocated for a new lockdown in the United States, saying it would invigorate the economy and decrease the number of coronavirus cases.

Dr. Michael Osterholm said the federal government would need to enact a new lockdown that spans over a month to drive down cases of COVID-19 before the release of a vaccine. He pointed to reported success stories in Australia and New Zealand.

“We could pay for a package right now to cover all of the wages, lost wages for individual workers, for losses to small companies to medium-sized companies, for cities, states, county governments. We could do all of that,” he told Yahoo Finance. “If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks.”

To define what would constitute a lockdown, Osterholm referenced listeners to an op-ed he wrote with Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, in the New York Times.

“The problem with the March-to-May lockdown was that it was not uniformly stringent across the country. For example, Minnesota deemed 78 percent of its workers essential. To be effective, the lockdown has to be as comprehensive and strict as possible,” the two wrote. “If we aren’t willing to take this action, millions more cases with many more deaths are likely before a vaccine might be available.”

“There is no trade-off between health and the economy. Both require aggressively getting control of the virus. History will judge us harshly if we miss this life- and economy-saving opportunity to get it right this time,” they said.

Osterholm warned on Tuesday that “the next 12 to 14 weeks are likely to be the darkest period in this entire pandemic,” following Biden and apparent Vice President-elect Kamala Harris's announcement that he would be included in their 10-member transitional COVID-19 advisory board.

There are over 10.3 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S., with over 240,700 deaths, according to the latest reading of the Johns Hopkins University tracker. Over 3.96 million people have recovered.

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