Dr. Michael Osterholm, Regent Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair of Public Health and Director of the Center for Research and Policy on Infectious Diseases at the University of Minnesota, announced advances on COVID-19 testing in Minnesota at St. Paul, MN.
Glen Stubbe | Star Tribune | Getty Images
Closing businesses and paying for lost wages for four to six weeks could help keep the coronavirus pandemic in check and boost the economy until a vaccine is approved and distributed, said Dr. Michael Osterholm, a coronavirus advisor to the President-elect Joe Biden.
Osterholm, who serves as the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said earlier this week that the country is went in the direction of “Covid Hell”. Cases are on the rise as more people get tired of wearing masks, social distancing and suffer from what is known as “pandemic fatigue,” he said on Wednesday. Colder weather also drives people indoors, where the virus can spread more easily.
A nationwide lockdown would keep the number of new cases and hospitalizations to manageable levels while the world waits for a vaccine said Yahoo Finance On Wednesday.
“We could now pay for a package to cover all wages, lost wages for individual workers for losses to small businesses, to medium-sized businesses or city, state and county governments. We could do all of that,” he said. “If we did that, we could lock up for four to six weeks.”
Osterholm was Appointed Biden’s 12 member Covid “Advisory Board” on Monday. The advisory board is made up of former General Surgeon Vivek Murthy, former Commissioner for Food and Drug Administration David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith of Yale University jointly directed. Other members of the task force are Dr. Atul Gawande, Professor of Surgery and Health Policy at Harvard, and Dr. Rick Bright, the vaccine expert and whistleblower resigned from the Trump administration last month.
A representative from Biden did not return CNBC’s request for comment.
Osterholm referred on Wednesday to a statement he had drafted in August with the President of the US Federal Reserve of Minneapolis, Neel Kashkari, in which the two advocated more restrictive and uniform lockdowns across the country.
“The problem with the March-May lockdown was that it wasn’t consistently strict across the country. For example, Minnesota thought 78 percent of its workforce was essential.” You wrote in the New York Times. “To be effective, the lockdown must be as comprehensive and strict as possible.”
On Wednesday, Osterholm said such a lockdown would help the country get the virus under control “as they did in New Zealand and Australia”. Epidemiologists have repeatedly pointed to New Zealand, Australia and other parts of Asia for cutting the number of new cases to below 10 as an example of how to contain the virus.
“We really saw how we moved towards vaccine availability in the first and second quarters of next year while getting the economy back on track well in advance,” he said on Wednesday.
On the current path, Osterholm said the US is heading for dark days before a vaccine becomes available. He said health systems across the country are already overwhelmed in places like El Paso, Texas, where local officials have already closed stores and the federal government is sending resources to deal with a surge in Covid-19 deaths.
Osterholm said the country needed leadership. The president-elect is up to the task of taking this leadership, Osterholm said, adding that it could also come from local and state officials or from the medical community. He referred to the Fireside Chats, which were broadcast on the radio during the tenure of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in which Roosevelt addressed the country on topics from the Great Depression to World War II.
“People don’t want to hear that El Paso is not an isolated incident. El Paso is becoming the norm in many cases,” he said. “I think the message is how we can get through this. We need FDR moments now. We need fireside chats. We need someone to tell America, ‘This the hell is going to happen.'”