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Nationwide lockdown and mask mandate needed as coronavirus cases surge: doctor

Seana Smith
·3 min read

As the number of new coronavirus cases top 100,000 in the U.S. for more than a week, health experts are warning that the situation will get drastically worse if government officials don’t implement restrictions.

Dr. Uche Blackstock, CEO of Advancing Health Equity, is calling for a unified response, telling Yahoo Finance Live that a mask mandate is needed, and although it’s not likely, a national lockdown would be a “wise strategy” to mitigate the virus’ spread.

“I think it would be dramatically better [if we were to have a national lockdown]... We essentially need a collective response to the crisis we're in right now to see any change in the numbers that are growing exponentially,” she said.

Blackstock is also advocating for a mask mandate as many forecasts are for the outbreak to escalate through the winter months. Colder weather will likely drive people indoors, where the chance of transmission is much higher. A recent study by researchers from Stanford University and Northwestern University listed restaurants and gyms as potential super spreader sites, naming the two venues as places where people are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19.

“We haven't seen the worst of it. it's going to be a long, hard winter…,” Blackstock said. “In order to see any significant decline in cases, we're probably going to need to have some non-essential businesses, restaurants, and gyms close for at least four to six weeks, if not more.”

The rapid rise in coronavirus cases is playing out in a similar manner to the warnings we’ve been hearing from health officials for months. The U.S. set another record for daily confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, reporting another 144,000 infections, while the number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU hit the highest level since May.

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 10: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Medical staff members treat a patient suffering from coronavirus in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) on November 10, 2020 in Houston, Texas. According to reports, COVID-19 infections are on the rise in Houston, as the state of Texas has reached over 1,030,000 cases, including over 19,000 deaths.  (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 10: Medical staff members treat a patient suffering from coronavirus in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

Thirty-five states are now considered hotspots where stay-at-home orders are necessary, according to the Brown School of Public Health COVID-19 Risk Level Dashboard. To be designated as a hotspot, there are more than 25 positive cases per 100,000 people. States currently with the highest number of cases per 100,000 people are North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, and Wisconsin. The risk assessment map shows stay-at-home orders are advised in an additional 13 states, plus the District of Columbia.

Because of these elevated levels, Blackstock said it’s time state and local leaders make “some really hard decisions” in order to get the outbreak under control.

“The strategy for outreach and messaging is going to be incredibly important at this critical point,” said Blackstock. “I think we need to recheck our priorities. I understand that businesses are going to suffer. We need to find a way through a stimulus bill to help support them and support their workers as well, but we need to really get through this with as few deaths as possible.”

Seana Smith anchors Yahoo Finance’s 3-5p ET program. Follow her on Twitter @SeanaNSmith