A national corporate and school lockdown is a “measure of last resort” even as cases continue to rise to record highs in the US, a senior coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden said Sunday.
According to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Covid-19 cases grew 5% or more in 47 states on Saturday based on a weekly average. The US reported 166,555 new cases on Saturday, the second highest daily number of new cases.
The U.S. currently reports a weekly average of 145,401 cases per day, up more than 33% from the previous week and a record average, according to Hopkins.
More than 69,400 people have been hospitalized with Covid-19, the highest number of people with the virus at any point during the pandemic COVID tracking projectrun by journalists in the Atlantic.
Top Coronavirus Advisor for Biden, the named a group of scientists On Monday, they expressed mixed views on whether the US should take lockdown measures to control the recent surge in cases to steer its Covid-19 response.
“That’s a last resort measure,” said Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former US surgeon general who wanted to lead the group, told Fox News Sunday, adding that any lockdown at this stage of the pandemic would be different from the sweeping closures that states are enacting this spring to allow the virus suppress.
“In the spring we didn’t know much about Covid, we kind of responded with an on-off switch. We just turned things off because we didn’t know exactly how it spread and where it spread. But we’ve had a lot more since then learned, “said Murthy.
Murthy’s comments come after another Biden Covid-19 advisor, Dr. Michael Osterholm, who serves as director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said Yahoo Finance in an interview Wednesday that shuttering stores for four to six weeks while people pay for lost wages might help suppress Cases and hospital stays at 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”.
“We do not support a nationwide lockdown,” said Dr. Atul Gawande, professor of surgery and health policy at Harvard and Biden advisor, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “You can take targeted actions based on mask wear to include full testing, include dial-up and down-dial capacity restrictions, and these actions need to be more local.”
Both Gawande and Murthy pointed to New York “Micro-cluster” strategy as an an example. The state has placed stricter restrictions on certain areas depending on the spread of the coronavirus. The hardest hit red zones would be forced to close non-essential businesses and schools for personal learning while other surrounding areas can remain open with changes.
“On a zip code to zip code basis, you can apply different restrictions to get the virus under control. This is very effective. We don’t need to be shut down nationwide,” Gawande said.
More states are starting to re-engage in coronavirus restrictions and roll out nationwide mask mandates as coronavirus cases continue to surge ahead of the holidays. Many governors have pointed to “Covid fatigue” or poor compliance with recommended public health guidelines as one of the reasons for the swelling infections.
North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, a Republican who refused to adopt a mask mandate, ordered residents to cover their faces in public on Friday. On Thursday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine prevailed again a nationwide mask mandate with stricter enforcement Measures for companies.
“When we wear a mask, we keep our children in school and we protect our elderly and we protect our hospitals,” DeWine told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “We can see the end, we just have to hold out a few more months and do what we have to do to get through this.”