President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, once slammed the use of the word “lockdown” in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in comments that have resurfaced in light of new calls for more restrictions to combat the spread of the virus. 

The resurfacing of Klain's coronavirus tweets come as another adviser on the incoming president’s COVID-19 transition team suggested this week a possible "four-to-six-week" shutdown of the country to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In mid-March, Klain responded to a tweet by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, who said grocery stores were still open and people could still leave their homes while using “common sense,” practicing “social distancing” and washing their hands.

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“If we are going to make this sustainable, then we need more of this, and less of ‘lockdown,’” Klain tweeted on March 22.

Klain, on March 25, also penned an op-ed for The Washington Post, saying “lock it down vs. let it open” is a “flawed debate.”

“It fails to recognize how much economic activity continues now, even in our current condition; it also fails to appreciate the nuanced alternatives to ‘going back to the way it was’ when it is time to move toward normalization,” Klain, who oversaw the Obama administration’s Ebola response, wrote. “Public health advocates need to do a better job of messaging their side of the coronavirus argument is they want to keep the American people as safe as possible.”

Klain also noted that the term “lockdown” is “misguided as a term of prescription” and sounds “overly harsh,” which “encourages defiance.”

“Even under restriction, people are free to go to grocery stores and drugstores as needed, go out to exercise and accept deliveries,” he wrote. “If officials want Americans to live this way, then describing it as livable — and not as a mass form of house arrest — is critical.”

Weeks later, in early May, Klain commented on lockdowns again, replying to information on the end of Italy’s lockdown, which opened restaurants for takeouts and restarted factories.

“What’s striking here: Italy’s ‘relaxed’ lockdown is basically America’s ‘full’ lockdown. Helps explain why their lockdown drove case counts down while ours merely held cases flat,” Jeremy Konyndyk, the former chief of disaster for USAID under the Obama administration, tweeted.

Klain replied: “I agree with this. We’ve been ill-served here by using phrases like ‘lockdown’ and ‘shutdown.’”

It is unclear whether Klain's stance on lockdowns has changed. 

This week, Biden announced the formation of the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, which he said would “help shape” his incoming administration’s approach to managing the coronavirus pandemic.

The board is led by co-chairs Dr. David Kessler, who served in both the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations as FDA commissioner; Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general under the Obama administration; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of internal medicine, public health and management at Yale University. Also on the board: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an architect of the Affordable Care Act and former special adviser for health policy during the Obama administration; and Dr. Michael Osterholm, who served as a Science Envoy for Health Security on behalf of the State Department, among others.

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But this week, Osterholm, in an interview with Yahoo Finance, suggested a lockdown of “four to six weeks” to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We could pay for a package right now to cover all of the 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,” he told Yahoo Finance Live. “If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks and if we did that, we could drive the numbers down.”

His comments raised questions as to whether the incoming Biden administration would, in fact, shut down the country for more than a month upon taking office.

Osterholm, later, though, walked back his comments, telling ABC News that he “never discussed any of this with” the Biden team.

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“Nobody’s going to support it,” he told ABC News. “It’s not going to be supported out of the administration. It’s not going to be supported in Congress.”

Meanwhile, the advisory board is set to “help guide the Biden-Harris Transition in planning for the President-elect’s robust federal response.”

The scientists and public health experts on the board will consult with state and local officials to “determine the public health and economic steps necessary to get the virus under control, to deliver immediate relief to working families, to address ongoing racial and ethnic disparities, and to reopen our schools and businesses safely and effectively.”

The board is expected to come up with a seven-point plan to beat COVID-19, including ramping up testing, securing personal protective equipment (PPE) supply chains with the Defense Production Act, and investing in vaccines.

Biden, also, is expected to push to restore the Obama-era White House National Security Council Directorate for Health Security and Biodefense, while reengaging with the World Health Organization.

Biden is also expected to relaunch the U.S. Agency for International Development’s pathogen tracking program called “PREDICT,” and will call on all governors to enact mask mandates.

Source Link:
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/ron-klain-biden-chief-of-staff-coronavirus-lockdowns-pandemic

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