President-elect Joe Biden’s Covid advisors do not know of a US lockdown to comprise the pandemic
Two of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisors on Friday pushed for the idea of a national lockdown to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
“As a group, there really is agreement that we need a more nuanced approach,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, who sits on the panel and is an infectious disease specialist at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the group “did not agree” with imposing such widespread restrictions in the US. “We can be much more targeted geographically. We can also be more targeted what we include.”
Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general to head the group, said national lockdowns were recommended in the spring when scientists didn’t know as much about the spread of the disease and people were less tired from the pandemic.
“We’re not in a place where we say, ‘Turn off the whole country,” Murthy said in an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, advocating a more focused approach. “If we don’t, you’ll find out that people will get even more tired, schools will not be open to children and the economy will be harder hit. “
Their comments come after another Biden Covid-19 advisor, Dr. Michael Osterholm, who serves as the director of the Infectious Disease Research and Policy Center at the University of Minnesota, told Yahoo Finance in an interview on Wednesday that companies will be closed for four to six weeks in which people are paid for lost wages, could help suppress cases and hospital stays to a manageable level.
Osterholm later clarified his comments in an interview with NBC News, saying, “It wasn’t a recommendation. I never made that recommendation to Biden’s group. We never discussed it.”
A Biden transition official told NBC News that a shutdown “is not in line with the thinking of the president-elect”.
Rather than taking a comprehensive lockdown approach, Gounder told CNBC that state officials should focus on introducing stricter restrictions in and on areas of the country that are at high risk for the virus to spread, such as restaurants, bars and gyms aim to keep their schools open to students.
“I see this as a dimmer switch, not an on and off switch of the light,” she said. “I think we just have to close the things that are really disseminating and really try … to stay open as much as possible like schools when they are not disseminating.”
A handful of states and cities began to introduce stricter restrictions like curfews, mask requirements, and group meeting restrictions ahead of winter as scientists warn the US will enter what is likely the “darkest days of the pandemic.”
The U.S. has reported three consecutive days of record-breaking daily new Covid-19 cases, which hit a weekly average of 131,445 cases per day, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Many infectious disease experts, including White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, have tried to distance themselves from the term “lockdown”, which suggests the US will not have to fall back on the widespread “stay-at-home” contracts it passed in the spring when the coronavirus began first reached the US coast.
When it comes to bans, Biden has previously said he would listen to suggestions from scientists like Fauci. However, the Biden-Harris Covid-19 plan calls for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide communities with evidence-based guidance on how to close some businesses or schools depending on the level of virus spread.
“I don’t think a full lockdown is necessary or useful,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health, told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” on Thursday evening. I do not agree with Osterholm’s request for a complete block.
It would be beneficial to cut back on some activities to combat coronavirus outbreaks, Jha said. Eating indoors in restaurants, gyms and casinos has become a “real problem”, although other activities, especially when they are outside and people are wearing masks, can continue, he said.
“I wouldn’t recommend a complete lockdown at all,” said Jha.