Biden's COVID Chief Wants America in Full National Lockdown for 6 Weeks
Dr. Michael Osterholm insists federal government must force measure to avoid 'virus hell'
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's COVID-19 advisor is pushing for America to go into a full national lockdown for up to six weeks, according to reports.
Dr. Michael Osterholm argues that the federal government should "borrow" money and force the public to stay at home while shuttering businesses.
Osterholm insisted Wednesday that a national lockdown may be the only way to reduce coronavirus cases across the country until a vaccine can be distributed.
According to the health chief, the country's economy will not suffer as a result because the U.S. government can just borrow money to pay everybody's wages during the shutdowns.
Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, is one of the public health experts that the Biden transition team has appointed to its advisory panel.
Former Vice President Biden says his advisory board "will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections," should he win the election.
It comes as coronavirus hospitalizations and infections hit single-day highs in the U.S., although deaths are still about half what they were during the peak in April, according to reports.
On Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo already began pulling back opening hours of bars and restaurants, ordering them to close at 10 pm daily from this Friday as cases in the state rise.
Osterholm, however, believes that a more stringent national lockdown is needed, with uniform restrictions taken in each of the states if the rise in cases is to be combated.
He told Yahoo News that cases are rising as more people are being forced indoors due to the cold weather, where the virus can spread more easily.
It also comes as people suffer from "pandemic fatigue" and grow tired of wearing masks and social distancing, he suggested.
"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, according to CNBC.
"We could do all of that.
"If we did that, then we could lockdown for four-to-six weeks."
He also referenced a New York Times op-ed written by him and Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari in August in which they had argued for a wider national lockdown.
"The problem with the March-to-May lockdown was that it was not uniformly stringent across the country," they wrote.
"For example, Minnesota deemed 78 percent of its workers essential.
"To be effective, the lockdown has to be as comprehensive and strict as possible."
Osterholm suggested Wednesday that such as lockdown would bring the U.S. in line with the likes of New Zealand and Australia where new daily cases have been reduced to under ten cases.
"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.
Yet Osterholm suggested that there were worse days ahead for the country if this kind of action isn't taken.
He spoke of places such as El Paso, Texas, where officials have already closed businesses as the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed.
Osterholm, who was among the members of Biden's task force the transition team announced on Monday, claimed that "people don't want to hear that El Paso isn't an isolated event."
"El Paso, in many instances, will become the norm," he added, touting Biden as the person to explain this to the American people.
"I think that the message is how do we get through this," he said.
"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'."
Earlier this week, Osterholm suggested that the country is going to "Covid hell" if it doesn't take action to tackle the rising cases soon.
He said that the next three to four months will be the darkest period for the pandemic so far as new daily cases continue to reach far above 100,000.
"What America has to understand is that we are about to enter Covid hell," he told CNBC.
"It is happening."
"We have not even come close to the peak and, as such, our hospitals are now being overrun," Osterholm added.
"The next three to four months are going to be, by far, the darkest of the pandemic."
Biden has also spoken in terms of doom and gloom while pushing for action before a vaccine is distributed.
State officials are voicing concerns about the logistical issues involved in distributing the vaccine once one is ready.
"It's clear that this vaccine, even if approved, will not be widely available for many months yet to come," Biden said Monday.
"The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing."
Thankfully, President Donald Trump has a plan to distribute the vaccine quickly.
Earlier this year, Trump said he will mobilize the U.S. military to distribute the coronavirus vaccine when one becomes available.