Biden, Trump advisors offer competing views on lockdowns

The teams of President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden have taken vastly different stances on lockdowns as a COVID-19 mitigation strategy.

Where the Biden camp stands

Michael Osterholm, PhD, a coronavirus advisor to President-elect Biden, said in a Nov. 11 interview with Yahoo Finance that a nationwide lockdown of four to six weeks would help bring hospitalizations under control as drug companies work to deliver a vaccine.

"We could really watch ourselves cruising into the vaccine availability in the first and second quarter of next year while bringing back the economy long before that" with a package covering lost income for individuals and governments, he said.

Dr. Osterholm, who serves as director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, was appointed to President-elect Biden's 13-member COVID-19 advisory board on Nov. 9.

In August, he and Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari penned an op-ed in The New York Times in favor of more restrictive and uniform nationwide lockdowns.

"The problem with the March-to-May lockdown was that it was not uniformly stringent across the country. For example, Minnesota deemed 78 percent of its workers essential," they wrote. "To be effective, the lockdown has to be as comprehensive and strict as possible."

Where the Trump camp stands

President Trump has remained firmly opposed to lockdowns, insisting in August that they could cause more harm than good, according to CNBC.

"It's important for all Americans to recognize that a permanent lockdown is not a viable path forward producing the result that you want," he said during a White House briefing on the virus.

Scott Atlas, MD, one of President Trump's chief coronavirus advisers and a senior fellow with Stanford (Calif.) University's Hoover Institution, has advised against lockdowns, according to Business Insider, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reiterated Oct. 29 that no part of the administration's strategy will include a lockdown, FOX Business reported.

"This president has been making sure that we're working around the clock to get therapeutics and vaccines," Mr. Meadows said, "and we're well on our way, hopefully within weeks of deploying vaccines and getting final approval with a couple of different companies."

With vaccines "on the way," the nation's top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, MD, is advising the public to double down on wearing masks and social distancing to prevent lockdowns, WBNS-10TV reported Nov. 12.

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