Two public health experts advising President-elect Joe Biden on COVID-19 rejected the idea of “lockdowns” like those seen in the spring to bring down rising case numbers.
Those lockdowns also led to skyrocketing unemployment as businesses were closed down.
Celine Gounder, who sits on Biden’s COVID-19 task force, said on CNBC Friday the panel supports “targeted” closures of businesses that are actually leading to the spread of the virus, including indoor dining.
“Really the consensus is that we need a more nuanced approach. We’ve learned a lot since the spring, and we can be much more targeted geographically, and we can also be more targeted in terms of what we close,” she said.
“I think what we need to be tightening up right now is indoor dining, going to bars, indoor gyms, that sort of thing and we can really keep schools for example open much longer if we tighten up the areas where we’re most likely to see spread.”
The U.S. is entering what some experts have called the worst stage of the pandemic, averaging more than 130,000 new cases per day.
As the weather cools, people are spending more time indoors, where the virus spreads more easily.
Hospitalizations and deaths are also increasing. Still, experts have shied away from endorsing the lockdowns seen in the spring given their negative impacts on the economy and mental health.
“We’re not in a place where we’re saying, ‘shut the whole country down,’ ” said Murthy, a former surgeon general.
“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 the science but we’ve got to also be more precise than we were in the spring.”