Contact Us

Biden Adviser Proposes Nationwide Shutdown While States, Cities Take Baby Steps To Control COVID Spread

A computer graphic of the coronavirus, produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The coronavirus is spreading at its fastest rate yet, and how much each level of government will do to get it under control is up in the air.

One of the 12 members of President-elect Joe Biden's COVID-19 advisory committee is now advocating for a four- to six-week nationwide shutdown, telling Yahoo Finance that it could allow the U.S. to turn the tide on the pandemic.

“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,” University of Minnesota Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy Director Michael Osterholm said on a Yahoo Finance webcast.

Osterholm's proposal hinges on the federal government's ability to subsidize businesses and their employees who would be back out of work, a progression that has proven elusive for the two houses of Congress starkly divided along party lines. But the rhetoric is a reminder of the different attitude a Biden administration will likely bring to the ongoing national crisis.

Even if Inauguration Day begets an about-face in federal health policy, it will likely be down to state and local government officials to follow through on regulations. So far, they have not shown a willingness to return to the restrictions that were put in place in March and April, when case numbers and hospitalizations were lower than they are today.

Mere months removed from the trauma of the deadliest outbreak in the U.S. to date, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded to the latest case numbers on Wednesday by forcing gyms, restaurants, bars and anywhere else serving food and drinks to close by 10 p.m. while still allowing some indoor dining. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a stay-at-home advisory to take effect on Monday, asking citizens only to leave their homes for essential trips, but the advisory came without a mandate.

Part of that reluctance could be out of concern for businesses that spent the year to date blowing through their financial safety nets. National restaurant chains and trade organizations have been lobbying to keep dining rooms open, The Wall Street Journal reports, even as new studies show that indoor dining is the strongest link to the spread of the coronavirus.