Dr. Michael Osterholm, a coronavirus advisor to President-elect Joe Biden, said a nationwide lockdown could help bring the pandemic under control in the United States and even revive the economy.
Osterholm floated the idea during an on-camera interview with Yahoo Finance on Wednesday, saying COVID-19 could be managed until a vaccine becomes available by shutting down businesses for four to six weeks and paying people for lost wages.
“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. We could do all of that,” Osterholm said. “If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks.”
One of Biden's new coronavirus task force doctors floating the idea of a 4-6 week lockdown:
“We could pay for a package right now to cover all of the lost wages for individual workers … if we did that, then we could lockdown for 4 to 6 weeks."pic.twitter.com/zNmuQvPpIJ
— Zack Guzman (@zGuz) November 11, 2020
He said such a scenario could drive down infections and hospitalizations, “like they did in New Zealand and Australia.”
“Then 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 added.
Osterholm, director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, was named a member of Biden’s transition COVID-19 advisory board on Monday. He previously served as a Science Envoy for Health Security on behalf of the U.S. Department of State from June 2018 to May 2019.
During an exclusive interview with ABC News’ David Muir earlier this year, then-Democratic presidential nominee Biden said he “would listen to the scientists” if a nationwide lockdown was recommended.
“I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus,” Biden said.