Although he doesn’t define the criteria that would launch the tactic, former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, now the co-chair of Joe Biden’s COVID advisory board, says another national lockdown is “a measure of last resort.”
He told “Fox News Sunday” such a decision should be approached “with the precision of a scalpel rather than the blunt force of an ax.” He also called for a national alert system.”
Host Chris Wallace asked Murthy, “Can you honestly say, if things get bad enough, aren’t we going to need a national lockdown?”
“Well, that’s a measure of last resort, Chris, and I’m glad you raised this, because the way we think about lockdowns, I think it’s different now than it was in the spring,” Murthy said:
In the spring, when we didn’t know a lot about COVID, we responded in a sense with an on/off switch. We shut things down because, you know, we didn’t know exactly how this was spreading and where it was spreading.
We learned a lot more since then that tells that the better way to think about these safety restrictions is more a dial that we turn up and down, defending on severity, and that’s really the key here, is applying this, these restrictions judiciously and precisely. If you look at New York City, for example, they’re applying not broader restrictions everywhere but looking at specific zip codes to see where the outbreak is severe.
What we need, Chris, and the reason that you see so much variation in what states are doing is that we don’t have a national alert system guided by the best possible evidence that can help states and localities determine when to dial up and down these restrictions. And we also don’t have adequate resources for them to put these restrictions in place, namely schools, for example, which still don’t have resources to expand class sizes, hire more teachers and improve ventilation.
If we just lock down the entire country without targeting our efforts, then we are going to exacerbate the pandemic fatigue people are feeling, you’re going to hurt jobs and the economy, you’re going to shut down schools and hurt the education of our children. So, we go to approach this with a precision of a scalpel rather than the blunt force of an ax.
Murthy’s response was more measured than that of his fellow advisory board member Dr. Michael Osterholm, who last week said the country should lock down for four to six weeks, and pay for people’s lost wages by “borrowing” from Americans’ personal savings.
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