National lockdown to curb COVID-19 spread ‘last resort’: Biden health adviser


A national lockdown of businesses and schools is a “measure of last resort,” former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus (COVID-19) task force, said on Sunday.

“That’s a measure of last resort,” Murthy said on Fox News. “The way we think about lockdowns, I think, is different now than it was in the spring.  In the spring, when we didn’t know a lot about COVID, we responded in a sense with an on-off switch. We just shut things down because we didn’t know exactly how this was spreading and where it was spreading.”

He added, “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.”

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Murthy’s remarks were a stark contrast to the comments recently made by Dr. Michael Osterholm, another Biden COVID-19 adviser. Osterholm said closing down businesses and paying people for lost wages during a 4-to-6 week lockdown could get the pandemic under control in time for a vaccine.

Osterholm said that the time frame of the lockdown could get the country into the start of what is expected to be the first COVID-19 vaccine availability.

“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 that. If we did that, then we could lockdown for 4 to 6 weeks,” Osterholm said.

In the wake of differing stances between Biden’s two COVID-19 advisers, A Biden transition official reportedly told NBC News that a lockdown “is not in line with the president-elect’s thinking.”

“We are not in support of a nationwide lockdown,” Dr. Atul Gawande, a professor of surgery and health policy at Harvard, said. “You can have targeted measures building on mask-wearing to include widespread testing, can include dialing up and down capacity restrictions, and those measures need to happen on a more localized basis.”

Gawande also reminded the public of the importance of masks. In a tweet, he said, “When we refuse to wear a mask in a store or gathering, we hurt everyone’s freedom and put them in danger.”

The United States on Sunday surpassed 11 million cases of COVID-19, according to data from John Hopkins University. Over 246,000 people already died from the disease.

With this development, several states moved to implement restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.


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