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National lockdown could control pandemic: Biden COVID adviser

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Could the United States be headed toward a nationwide lockdown due to an increase in coronavirus cases?

It’s a possibility.

Michael Osterholm, top health adviser to President-elect Joe Biden and the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said a nationwide lockdown would drive the number of new cases and hospitalizations down to manageable levels while a vaccine remains in the works.

“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 told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday. “If we did that, then we could lockdown for four to six weeks.”

“When you look at the personal savings rate in this country, it’s now gone from about 8% to over 22%. We have a big pool of money out there that we could borrow. The historic low-interest rates by the federal government, we could pay for a package right now to cover all of the wages, lost wages for individual workers, for our losses to small companies to medium-sized companies, for city-states, county governments. We could do all of that,” he added.

“If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks,” he said. “And if we did that, we could drive the numbers down, like they’ve done in Asia, like they did in New Zealand and Australia. And then, we could really watch ourselves, cruising into the vaccine availability in the first and second quarter of next year, and bringing back the economy long before that.”

Pfizer this week revealed it had developed a vaccine candidate that is more than 90% effective and is seeking FDA approval in the coming weeks.  

The U.S. has confirmed more than 10 million coronavirus cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, as infections continue to rise in nearly every state.

Texas on Wednesday became the first state with more than 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, and California closed in on that mark as a surge of coronavirus infections engulfs the country.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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