A member of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force said Wednesday that the US could manage the pandemic by enforcing an extended economic lockdown with the government compensating workers for lost wages.
Dr. Michael Osterholm floated the idea in an interview with Yahoo Finance, explaining that a four to six week shutdown of small to medium businesses could drive down infection numbers.
Osterholm said the federal government is in a prime position to use borrowed money to pay for such a lockdown package.
“When you look at the personal savings rate in this country, it’s now gone from about 8 percent to over 22 percent,” Osterholm said. “We have a big pool of money out there that we could borrow.”
“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,” and loses to lower levels of government, Osterholm said.
Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease & Policy at the University of Minnesota, said other countries in Asia and New Zealand and Australia have instituted similar lockdowns.
“Then, we could really watch ourselves cruising into the vaccine availability in the first and second quarter of next year and bringing back the economy long before that,” he said.
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