An adviser to President-elect Joe Biden on the coronavirus on Thursday floated a national lockdown lasting four to six weeks to slow the rise of virus cases across the country.
Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease expert and one of the 13 members of Biden’s new coronavirus task force, said the U.S. has “a big pool of money out there that we could borrow,” citing the country’s increased personal savings rate as well as “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 losses to small companies, to medium-sized companies, for cities, states, county governments, we could do all that,” Osterhol told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday. “If we did that then we could lock down for four to six weeks, 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.”
“Then we could really watch ourselves cruising in to the vaccine availability in the first and second quarter of next year and bringing back the economy long before that,” the Biden adviser added.
The U.S. personal saving rate soared to a record 32.2 percent in April, when most of the country was locked down, but by August had dropped to below 15 percent as unemployment increased.
Coronavirus cases are increasing across the country, the U.S. logging a seven-day average over the past week of 112,000 daily cases. Recorded cases reached a peak of more than 132,000 on Friday.
Several states have already implemented lockdown measures again, including New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that bars and restaurants that serve alcohol must close by 10p.m. and private indoor gatherings must be capped at ten people.
Meanwhile, drug maker Pfizer announced Monday that its coronavirus vaccine appears to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease caused by the virus, according to an early analysis of the vaccine trial.
President Trump warned before the election last week that a Biden administration would implement more lockdowns, which he said would crater the economy.
More than 240,000 people have died in the U.S. from the coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and more than 10.3 million people have tested positive across the country. More than 1.2 million have died worldwide.