Joe Biden's COVID-19 Task Force Co-Chair Says a National Lockdown Is 'a Measure of Last Resort'
As the U.S. faces its worst stretch of the COVID-19 pandemic yet, the co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force said a nationwide lockdown will be “a measure of last resort.”
Dr. Vivek Murthy, the task force co-chair, explained a number of ways the incoming Biden administration is planning to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), during an interview with Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace.
Murthy, 43, said Sunday that “we have got to approach this with the position of a scalpel rather than the blunt force of an ax."
In addition to implementing stronger mask requirements, Murthy, the former Surgeon General under former President Barack Obama, added that the incoming Biden administration is looking at COVID-19 restrictions “more as a dial that we turn up and down depending on severity,” rather than a “switch.”
Murthy also said the answer to containing its spread has evolved, as health officials have learned more about the novel virus throughout 2020,
"The way we think about lockdowns, I think, is different now than it was in the spring," he said. "In the spring when we didn't know a lot about [COVID-19], we responded, in a sense, with an on-off switch. We just shut things down because we didn't know exactly how this was spreading and where it was spreading."
The U.S. has faced its largest increase in cases ever this month, as a New York Times tracker shows the country has had more than 11.1 million confirmed cases throughout 2020—the most anywhere in the world.
At least 246,083 people have died in the U.S. as a result of the pandemic, the Times reports, while at least 1.3 million people have died worldwide.
Biden and his team have been vocal about their plans to combat the spread once the president-elect and his staff take the reins on the federal government in January.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and the country’s leading medical voice on the COVID-19 pandemic, told CNN on Sunday that he doesn’t expect the U.S. to go back into a nationwide lockdown, but said to expect localized lockdowns around the country where cases are rising.
If things continue to get worse, though, Fauci didn't rule out the possibility of a nationwide lockdown.
"If things really get bad, and you put your foot on the pedal and yet still you have the surge, you may need to take the extra step you're talking about,” Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.
Murthy said it’s going to take a “Herculean effort” to get the U.S. public on board with taking COVID-19 precautions seriously—an issue the country has faced throughout 2020, as President Donald Trump downplayed the virus with a slew of misinformation.
"It's not going to be easy,” Murthy said. “And it's going to take not only an adequate supply of the vaccine, but it's going to take perhaps one of the most important but challenging elements too, which is public trust."