Biden Covid adviser urges nationwide lockdown

A woman takes a test in New York, where new restrictions are coming into force

One of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisers has said a nationwide lockdown of four to six weeks would help bring the outbreak under control in the US.

Dr Michael Osterholm – director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota – cited how New Zealand, Australia and several Asian countries had brought the virus under control.

He told CNBC: “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. We could do all of that.”

“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,” the adviser added.

Earlier this week Osterholm said the US was headed for “Covid hell”.

A record number of Americans – more than 60,000 – are in hospital receiving treatment for Covid-19. The US has seen ten straight days when coronavirus cases exceeded 100,000.

In New York, the state at the centre of infections early in the pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo is ordering that bars and restaurants shut at 22:00 and banning gatherings of more than 10 people. Meanwhile, Texas has become the first state to surpass a million cases.