- President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisor Dr. Michael Osterholm knows what needs to be done to get the coronavirus pandemic under control… but a lot of people aren’t going to like it.
- In an interview, the health expert said that a nationwide lockdown of 4-6 weeks could reduce the number of cases and prevent healthcare systems from being overwhelmed.
- “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 or city, state, county governments. We could do all of that,” he said. “If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks.”
The novel coronavirus is surging in the US and Europe, but America continues to lead the world in daily COVID-19 cases and deaths. The number of daily cases is now approaching 150,000, a figure that could be reached mere weeks after the 100,000-case milestone was first passed. The number of daily deaths hit 2,000 on Wednesday for the first time since early May — at the time, the US was recording just 25,000 new cases each day. New drugs and COVID-19 therapy protocols save more lives compared to the early months of the pandemic, but significant increases in the number of daily cases will still lead to a significant number of fatalities. More Americans die of COVID-19 every two days than the total number of deaths on 9/11.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, a coronavirus advisor to President-elect Joe Biden, has an idea on how to control the pandemic. His solution will upset a lot of people, including politicians who have resisted similar strategies before. The health expert thinks that a nationwide lockdown of 4-6 weeks could help officials control the pandemic… and he says it can be done in such a way that helps the economy instead of hurting it.
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“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 or city, state, county governments. We could do all of that,” Osterholm told Yahoo Finance. “If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks.”
One of Biden's new coronavirus task force doctors floating the idea of a 4-6 week lockdown:
“We could pay for a package right now to cover all of the lost wages for individual workers … if we did that, then we could lockdown for 4 to 6 weeks."pic.twitter.com/zNmuQvPpIJ
— Zack Guzman (@zGuz) November 11, 2020
“We could really watch ourselves cruising into the vaccine availability in the first and second quarter of next year while bringing back the economy long before that,” he said. Pfizer announced a few days ago that its vaccine candidate has over 90% efficacy according to interim data. The company might be ready to apply for Emergency Use Authorization in the coming weeks, and emergency vaccinations could start soon after that.
Osterholm serves as director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and is one of the 12-member COVID-19 advisory board that Biden announced on Monday.
The expert referenced an August op-ed he wrote in The New York Times with Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari, arguing for the need for more uniform lockdowns in the US. “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,” the two said at the time. “To be effective, the lockdown has to be as comprehensive and strict as possible.”
Osterholm pointed on Wednesday to the lockdown measures in New Zealand and Australia that helped the two countries control their COVID-19 outbreaks. He warned that the current trajectory will only worsen and healthcare systems will continue to be overwhelmed by the influx of patients. He said earlier this week that the country is heading to “COVID hell,” per CNBC.
The doctor added that most Americans will soon experience or know people who got COVID-19, if it hasn’t happened already. He warned that America won’t be blue and red states anymore, “it will be COVID color.”
Several European countries, including France, Germany, and the UK, have imposed new lockdowns in response to the second wave of COVID-19 that’s sweeping across the continent. The lockdowns aren’t as strict as before since schools are open, people can go to work, and some social interactions are allowed. The restrictions differ from country to country, but there are commonalities between them. Public places like restaurants, bars, and non-essential shops are closed. People aren’t allowed to meet in large groups, and fines are levied for violations. Curfews might also be in effect in some hotspots.