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Biden Virus Advisers Say a National Lockdown Isn’t on Agenda

(Bloomberg) —

Two of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisers said they favor targeted local measures to stem the pandemic and oppose a nationwide U.S. lockdown as too blunt.

Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general who’s one of Biden’s top three advisers on the virus, said that based on what the nation has learned about Covid-19 since the spring, the preferred approach to fighting it is “a dial that we turn up and down, depending on severity.”

“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,” Murthy, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“So we’ve got to approach this with the precision of a scalpel rather than the force of an ax,” he said.

Finding ways to curb Covid-19 infections is increasingly urgent for Biden after U.S. cases hit records over the past two weeks amid a nationwide surge. President Donald Trump, who sought to raise the specter of a lockdown by a Biden administration during his re-election campaign, said last week that “this administration will not be going to a lockdown.”

Asked about the lockdown option on Sunday, Murthy said “it’s a measure of last resort.”

Atul Gawande, the surgeon and author who’s a member of Biden’s wider group of virus advisers, also called for targeted measures. They should build on mask-wearing and testing to dial up and down capacity restrictions on a more localized basis, he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“We are not in support of a nationwide lockdown,” Gawande said. “We can get this under control. The critical parts are understanding what we’ve learned since we did a nationwide lockdown in early April.”

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday that Biden’s Covid team has been stymied from communicating with the current administration, as is the case across the federal government at the moment.

“It’s almost like passing a baton in a race — you don’t want to stop and then give it to somebody. You want to just essentially keep going,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And that is what transition is. So, it certainly would make things more smoothly if we could do that.”

(Updates with Fauci in final two paragraphs.)

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