Imposing lockdown, shutting down businesses, and paying people for lost wages for 4 to 6 weeks could help control the COVID-19 pandemic and review the economy, according to epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm, a COVID-19 advisor to President-elect Joe Biden.
Dr. Osterholm, who is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said that the nation is now heading toward “COVID hell.”
He said people are suffering from “pandemic fatigue” because they are tired of wearing masks and practicing social distancing, as the cases continue to rise. Besides, cold weather has also been keeping people indoors, as the coronavirus can spread more easily.
Dr. Osterholm told Yahoo Finance that a lockdown for a certain period would reduce the number of cases and hospitalizations while the world has been eagerly waiting for a vaccine.
He said, “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. If we did that, then we could lockdown for four-to-six weeks.”
On Monday, Dr. Osterholm was named a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board.
The board is co-chaired by former US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, and Yale University professor Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. The other panel members include Dr. Atul Gawande of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Dr. Rick Bright, the vaccine researcher.
On Wednesday, Dr. Osterholm and Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, argued for a strict lockdown across the country to curb the pandemic.
They wrote in the New York Times, “The problem with the March-to-May lockdown was that it was not uniformly stringent across the country. For example, Minnesota deemed 78 percent of its workers essential. To be effective, the lockdown has to be as comprehensive and strict as possible.”
The COVID-19 advisor said such lockdowns would help the nation to control the pandemic, “like they did in New Zealand and Australia.”
“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 continued. Dr. Osterholm said the nation needs leadership, adding that Biden is up to the task of providing that leadership.