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4-to-6 week lockdown with lost wages pay idea floated by Biden coronavirus adviser

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Posted at 11:12 AM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 11:33:08-05

An adviser to President-elect Joe Biden on the coronavirus is floating the idea of shutting down businesses for four-to-six weeks, and paying people for lost wages.

"With historic low interest rates, 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," Dr. Michael Osterholm told Yahoo Finance. "If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks."

He said a four-to-six week lockdown could get Americans “cruising into the availability of the vaccine in the first or second quarter of next year, and open the economy before that.”

He said it would have to be a true lockdown, similar to what New Zealand, Australia, Asia and other countries have done, to drive down the number of infections and hospitalizations.

“If I interviewed 50 people in the U.S. on what a lockdown is, I would get 75 different answers. There isn’t a good understanding of what a lockdown is,” he said.

Osterholm is the Director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, and was named a member of Biden's transition COVID-19 advisory board on Monday.

During the interview with Yahoo Finance, he also echoed statements from Dr. Anthony Fauci and other medical leaders that this winter could be hard.

The country is “facing a whole lot of trouble” as cases surge, Dr. Fauci told Shepherd Smith a few weeks ago. Fauci has repeatedly said during the fall that the country’s coronavirus infections were going in the “wrong direction” as we got into the winter. “We’re in a bad place now. We’ve got to turn this around.”

Dr. Osterholm said we are “entering this period I call COVID hell,” which he describes as a combination of COVID fatigue, pandemic anger and indoor air. “We’re going inside right now, we know the virus builds up inside,” Osterholm said.

He said everyone will be impacted by the coronavirus in the “days ahead” with how widespread the infections are getting, and everyone would likely know someone who contracts COVID-19 or become infected themselves in the future, if they have not already.