Michael Osterholm, part of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory panel. Meet the Press/NBC
A US nationwide lockdown lasting four to six weeks would help control the coronavirus and revive the US economy, Michael Osterholm, a COVID-19 advisor to President-elect Joe Biden, said Wednesday.
Osterholm told Yahoo Finance that the US had a “big pool of money” that could support the economy during lockdown until a vaccine is publicly available.
“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,” Osterholm said.
Osterholm was appointed to Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board Monday, along with 12 other prominent health experts.
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Michael Osterholm, an influential COVID-19 advisor to President-elect Joe Biden, on Wednesday called for a four- to six-week nationwide lockdown in the US to help drive down coronavirus infections.
Osterholm, part of the 13-person COVID-19 advisory panel that Biden announced Monday, told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday that the US had a “big pool of money” to help pay for people’s lost wages and get the economy back on track during a lockdown while a vaccine was being rolled out.
Osterholm, an infectious-disease expert, said a national lockdown would drive down the number of new COVID-19 cases, “like they did in New Zealand and Australia.”
“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,” he said. “We could do all of that. If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks.”
He added: “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.”
Over the past seven days, the US has recorded more than 112,000 daily cases on average. Known daily cases reached an all-time peak of more than 132,000 on Friday.
In response, some states, including Wisconsin, Nevada, and New York, have imposed new restrictions. Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Wednesday that New York City was on its “last chance” to stop a second wave and said bars, restaurants, and gyms must close by 10 p.m.
The US could see 1 million daily coronavirus cases by the end of 2020, according to a new report from Pantheon Macroeconomics released Wednesday.
Read more: EXCLUSIVE: Documents reveal Trump is building his own ‘deep state’ by leaving political appointees behind in government for the Biden administration
In the interview, Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, echoed the message he made to CNBC on Monday about the US entering “COVID hell.”
He told Yahoo Finance: “I think that the message is: How do we get through this? We need FDR moments right now. We need fireside chats. We need somebody to tell America, ‘This is what in the hell is going to happen.'”
Osterholm was appointed to Biden’s 13-member COVID-19 advisory board Monday, along with other leading health experts such as David Kessler, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, and Vivek Murthy, the former surgeon general.
Biden said in a statement that the board “will help shape my approach” to managing the pandemic.
The coronavirus has killed more than 242,000 people in the US and infected more than 10.5 million. On Sunday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases recorded worldwide passed 50 million.
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