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A nationwide lockdown — paired with an economic stimulus package — could stem the dramatic spread of the coronavirus and potentially boost the economy, an adviser to President-elect Joe Biden said Wednesday.
“We could pay for a package right now to cover all of the wages, lost wages, for individual workers,” Michael Osterholm, a member of Biden’s COVID-19 task force and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told Yahoo! Finance Live.
A 4- to 6-week lockdown could stem the increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths occurring in nearly all states across the country, he said. With the current low interest rates, the federal government could also borrow funds to support small and medium-sized companies, as well as city, county and state governments.
“If we did that, we could drive the numbers down,” he said. “Like they’ve done in Asia. Like they did in New Zealand and Australia.”
A lockdown could be particularly useful during the winter months when people are more likely to spend time together indoors, where the virus spreads more easily, he said, citing his concerns about a growing sense of “pandemic fatigue” around public health guidelines such as social distancing and avoiding crowds.
Osterholm was named to Biden’s COVID-19 advisory group on Monday, and since then, he has spoken to multiple news outlets about the potential dire situation ahead if coronavirus transmission isn’t curbed. He warned that daily cases could grow to 200,000 nationwide within weeks. On Wednesday, the U.S. reported more than 144,000 new cases, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
Without major additional steps, the numbers will continue to climb for the next 2 to 3 months during winter, he said, and nearly every American will know someone who has contracted the virus, whether themselves, a family member or a colleague. There won’t be “blue or red states or counties” anymore, he added — they will be “COVID-colored.”
“This is us versus the virus,” he said. “I said yesterday that we are entering this period that I call ‘COVID hell.'”
Yahoo Finance: “There will be no ‘blue or red states’ only ‘covid-colored’: Biden COVID-19 Task Force Member.”
COVID Tracking Project, “Our Data.”