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Here’s what Joe Biden’s COVID-19 task force said about a national lockdown

Published Nov 19th, 2020 4:41PM EST
Image: ZUMAPRESS.com/MEGA
  • Despite concerns from some Americans, the incoming Biden administration has repeatedly stated that it has no plans to call for or implement a national lockdown.
  • Coronavirus infections are out of control in the US, but President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 task force doesn’t think that we will need a lockdown to slow the spread.
  • “We do not need to go into a nationwide shelter-in-place shutdown,” one task force member said.

The United States is currently in the middle of its worst COVID-19 outbreak since the pandemic began in March. The latest data from The New York Times shows that the country is currently averaging over 160,000 confirmed cases per day, and without any plan to slow the spread of the virus, that number will likely grow in the weeks ahead. As a result, the prospect of a national lockdown has started to seep into the public consciousness, though President Trump has repeatedly made it clear that his administration has no intention of shutting anything down.

Of course, Trump will only be the president until January 20th, and thus attention has shifted to President-elect Biden for his incoming administration’s thoughts on a lockdown. Based on what Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force has said publicly up to this point, it seems unlikely the next president will call for a full-scale lockdown.


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As Newsweek notes in a recent article, Biden put together his own coronavirus advisory board right after the election in preparation for what he called “one of the most important battles our administration will face.” Biden’s board has 12 members, and a few of them have discussed the idea of a national lockdown in recent days.

“In the spring, when we didn’t know a lot about COVID, we responded in a sense with an on-off switch,” said former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in an interview with Fox News this past Sunday. “We just shut things down because we didn’t know exactly how this was spreading and where it was spreading. We’ve learned a lot more since then that tells us that the better way to think about the safety restrictions is more as a dial that we turn up and down depending on severity.” In the same interview he said a US lockdown would be a “measure of last resort.”

Concern about a national lockdown came after another member of the task force, Dr. Michael Osterholm, told Yahoo Finance that this “could drive the numbers down, like they did in Asia, like they did in New Zealand and Australia.” He later explained that he hadn’t run this plan by the administration or the other members of the task force, and admitted in an interview with ABC News that it wasn’t realistic. “Nobody’s going to support it,” he said.

“We are not in support of a nationwide lockdown and believe there is not a scenario unless — there simply isn’t a scenario because we can get this under control,” task force member Atul Gawande told ABC News. Gawande pointed to New York City, where different restrictions are being implemented in different ZIP codes based on the infection rate. “We do not need to go into a nationwide shelter-in-place shutdown,” he confirmed.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.