The co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force, former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, said this week that the incoming Biden administration plans to avoid another nationwide lockdown with a more “targeted” approach.
“I don’t think this is a lockdown or not locking down. I think that’s how we thought about this in the spring. But I think we’ve learned a lot since then about how this fire spreads and what we can do to reduce risk,” Murthy said during a Friday appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“And right now, the way we should be thinking about this is more like a series of restrictions that we dial up or down, depending on how bad spread is taking place in a specific region,” he continued. Murthy used New York City as a key example, noting how in recent weeks officials have imposed restrictions on certain zip codes within the city rather than applying restrictions to the city as a whole.
“We’re not in a place where we’re saying shut the whole country down. We got to be more targeted. If we don’t do that, what you’re going to find is that people will become even more fatigued, schools won’t be open to children and the economy will be hit harder. So we’ve got to follow science, but we’ve got to also be more precise than we were in the spring,” said Murthy.
Murthy’s comments come after Dr. Michael Osterholm, a Biden adviser, floated the idea of another four- to six-week lockdown should COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the county as they have over the past several weeks.
In an interview Thursday evening with ABC News, however, Osterholm walked backed the proposal, saying he has not yet spoken to the incoming administration about a prolonged nationwide lockdown.
“I’ve never discussed any of this with them,” Osterholm, who is also the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said. “Nobody’s going to support it. It’s not going to be supported out of the administration. It’s not going to be supported in Congress.”
During his “Good Morning America” appearance, Murthy was also asked how Biden’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic would differ from President Trump’s. He noted the incoming administration plans to focus on expanding testing capacity, something with which the nation has “struggled still to this point.”
“We still don’t have adequate testing so that anyone who wants a test can get one and get results quickly. We still don’t have enough and enough testing to be able to do surveillance testing in universities and workplaces and other places that are high risk, like prisons and nursing homes,” he said. “So that is an area where you’ll see President-elect Biden really focus: on expanding capacity.”
As of Friday morning, the U.S. has tallied more than 10,555,469 cases of COVID-19 and at least 242,435 deaths.