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President-elect Joe Biden COVID-19 adviser: We will not lock down the country

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·3 min read

President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 adviser team is trying to tamp down talk of an economy-busting nationwide lockdown to control the resurgent virus.

“A national lockdown or shutdown is not on the table. The President-elect has no intention of implementing a national lockdown. There may be some differences of opinion on the advisory board. But the consensus on the advisory board is also that we do not need a national lockdown,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, who is an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center and assistant professor at New York University. Gounder is also a member of Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, which is giving guidance to the incoming Biden-Harris administration on how to deal with the pandemic.

Gounder, speaking on Yahoo Finance Live, said there are more effective ways to control the renewed spread of COVID-19. Chief among them are targeted restrictions on human mobility like the ones being put back into place in states such as New York by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Says Gounder, “We have learned a lot since the spring. I think lockdowns are sort of coronavirus control 1.0 — it’s a bit like an on and off light switch. We are now in coronavirus control 2.0. Think of it like a dimmer switch where we can be a lot more targeted.”

Electronic sign along U.S. Highway 97 notifying people to stay home and save lives by reducing the risk of being infected due to COVID-19
Electronic sign along U.S. Highway 97 notifying people to stay home and save lives by reducing the risk of being infected due to COVID-19

Gounder’s comments on not having a nationwide lockdown are in line to recent ones made by Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board co-Chair Vivek Murthy.

The stances by both confidantes, however, come amid blowback in the financial community from another COVID-19 adviser to Biden calling for a nationwide lockdown.

Influential Biden adviser Dr. Michael Osterholm told Yahoo Finance Live a four- to six-week national lockdown would be appropriate to get the pandemic under control. Osterholm contends the U.S. has a “big pool of money” to pay for lost household wages from any lockdown. The payments to households would continue as a vaccine for the deadly disease is rolled out across the country.

Explained Osterholm, “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. If we did that then we could lock down for four to six weeks.”

One veteran strategist thinks the Dow Jones Industrial Average would crash 4,000 points if a national lockdown is imposed.

But as of right now, that market plunge prediction may have to be pushed out as the consensus in the Biden camp appears to be more surgical lockdowns than something Draconian.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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