Joe Biden's COVID-19 board co-chair says US lockdown unlikely under new administration

Vivek Murthy said he'd instead like to focus on targeted interventions to stop the spread of coronavirus.

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Friday, November 13, 2020
Joe Biden's COVID-19 board co-chair says US lockdown 'unlikely'
Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who is a co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden's coronavirus task force, spoke to "Good Morning America" exclusively on Friday, Nov. 13.

WASHINGTON -- Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who is a co-chair of Joe Biden's coronavirus task force, assured that "locking down" the U.S. is unlikely under the president-elect's administration.

Speaking exclusively to "Good Morning America" Friday, Murthy said compared to spring 2020, American researchers have a much deeper understanding of how the coronavirus spreads and ways to prevent risks.

"I don't think that this is [about] a lockdown or not locking down ... The way we should be thinking about this is more like a series of restrictions that we dial up or down depending on how bad the spread is taking place in a specific region," he said.

Murthy's comments come after news reports of Dr. Michael Osterholm, another member of Biden's COVID-19 advisory team, floating the idea of a four-to-six week lockdown during an on-camera interview with Yahoo Finance on Wednesday.

Osterholm has since told ABC News that he has not discussed this proposal with the incoming administration and doesn't think there's a national consensus for it anyway.

"I've never discussed any of this with them ... Nobody's going to support it. It's not going to be supported out of the administration. It's not going to be supported in Congress," " Osterholm told ABC News.

Murthy instead on Friday pushed for targeted intervention, using the example of New York City's cracking down on hotspots by the zip code instead of enforcing citywide shutdowns.

"So we're not in a place where we're saying, 'shut the whole country down.' We got to be more targeted. If you do that, what you're going to find is that people will become even more picky. Schools won't be open to children, and the economy will be hit harder," he said. "So we've got to follow science, but we also have to be more precise than we were in the spring."

During a "Good Morning America" interview Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Americans to "hang in there" and "double down" on COVID-19 preventative measures as progress is made toward a vaccine.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, also told ABC News Thursday he doesn't believe the United States will need to go into lockdown so long as people double down on wearing masks and social distancing.

When pressed specifically on how Biden's plan would differ from the Trump administration's handling so far, Murthy stressed that a Biden plan would focus in three areas: Stopping the spread, reopening safely and protecting hard-hit populations. He pointed to the importance of testing.

"We have struggled still to this point even though we've made some progress in the last eight months. We still don't have adequate testing so anyone who wants a test can get one and get results quickly. We still don't have enough testing to be able to do surveillance testing in universities and workplaces and in other places that are higher risk like prisons and nursing homes. So that is an area where you'll see President-elect Biden focusing expanding capacity," Murthy said.

The U.S. leads the world with more than 241,000 deaths and 10 million coronavirus cases.

ABC News contributed to this report.