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Biden coronavirus adviser calls national lockdown ‘measure of last resort’

Thomas Catenacci, DCNF

One of President-elect Joe Biden’s top coronavirus advisers said Sunday that implementing a national lockdown would be a “measure of last resort” in a Biden administration.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, who previously served as U.S. Surgeon General between 2014 and 2017, made the comments about a potential national lockdown on “Fox News Sunday,” according to CNBC. Murthy is one of three co-chairs who were named to President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus panel, according to The Washington Post.

“That’s a measure of last resort,” Murthy said, noting that any lockdown would be implemented differently than the sweeping lockdowns put in place in the spring, according to CNBC.

“In the spring we didn’t know a lot about Covid, we responded, in a sense, with an on-off switch,” Murthy continued, CNBC reported. “We just shut things down because we didn’t know exactly how this was spreading and where it was spreading, but we learned a lot more since then.”

Dr. Michael Osterholm, another Biden health adviser, said Wednesday that a 4-6 week lockdown could curb the spread of coronavirus and reinvigorate the economy.

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

Osterholm later walked back his comments, according to ABC News.

Average coronavirus cases and deaths per million have been increasing rapidly since mid-October, according to The COVID Tracking Project and The Financial Times. On Saturday, the U.S. reported 1,321 new coronavirus-related deaths and 163,473 new cases while 69,455 Americans remained hospitalized from the virus.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump celebrated the progress of Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s multiagency effort to produce a coronavirus vaccine quickly, during a news conference Friday. The goal of the operation has been to produce 300 million doses of “safe and effective vaccines” by January 2021.

“Operation Warp Speed is unequaled and unrivaled anywhere in the world,” said Trump, who was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Pfizer announced on Nov. 9 that the coronavirus vaccine it is developing was more than 90% effective and did not produce safety concerns during its large-scale trial.

Azar said in October that he expected a coronavirus vaccine to be available for vulnerable Americans by January, according to The Hill. He added that more Americans will have access to the vaccine by April.

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