Doctor alleges America needs more crippling lockdowns.
By S.T. Patrick
Joe Biden has a team of Covid-19 advisors, and one of them is already pushing a multiweek lockdown as a means by which the economy can be allegedly revived and the pandemic can be muted. Dr. Michael Osterholm’s plan is to shut down businesses for four to six weeks, pay people for the lost time, and allow time for a vaccine to get approved and distributed. What the country is headed toward, Osterholm said, is a “Covid hell.”
Osterholm is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He admitted what most Americans know to be true—that we are suffering from “pandemic fatigue,” that more people are tiring of wearing masks, and more people are worrying less about social distancing. His solution, however, is perplexing. Even as he admits that colder weather drives people indoors, and indoors is where the virus can spread in a more rapid manner, and even as he admits the level of irritation some have due to the “cabin fever” they’ve been forced into in 2020 grows, he promotes a lockdown as a way to eradicate much of that spread.
The purpose of a lockdown would be to wait for a vaccine that may or may not come within the lockdown period itself. If it didn’t, the lockdown could always be extended. There is no guarantee that the initial time period announced would correspond with the absolute end of a federal quarantine.
Osterholm is familiar with what can be done with chemicals and “bad medicine” globally. As a leading epidemiologist, he was a special advisor to HHS Director Tommy Thompson on the issues of bioterrorism and public health preparedness. He was a reviewer for IOM Report on Chemical and Biological Terrorism and has been a member of the American Society for Microbiology, the Committee on Biomedical Research of the Public and Scientific Affairs Board, the Task Force on Biological Weapons, and the Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance. In his career as a government-contracted epidemiologist, he has been a consultant to the World Health Organization, the NIH, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Defense, and the CDC.
“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 or city, state, county governments. We could do all of that,” Osterholm said. “If we did that, then we could lock down for four to six weeks.”
In an interview with NBC News, Osterholm later walked the idea back a bit, saying that it was just an idea and not a proposal that he had made to the Biden team.
To clarify further, Osterholm stated, “My only point was if we are going to keep making restrictions state-by-state, there is no compensation for the businesses that are being impacted,” he added. “What we’re doing right now is not working.” Osterholm pointed to the spring 2020 lockdown and its failures. Minnesota, for example, classified 78% of its workers as “essential.”
In El Paso, Texas, businesses have already been closed and the federal government has sent in resources and supplies to assist in the effort to stem the number of cases and deaths they have been reporting. Osterholm doesn’t believe El Paso is an isolated incident.
“People don’t want to hear that El Paso isn’t an isolated event,” he said. “El Paso, in many instances, will become the norm. I think that the message is: How do we get through this? We need FDR moments right now. We need fireside chats. We need somebody to tell America, ‘This is what in the hell is going to happen.’ ”
Feeling the pressure of an inquisitive media and an increasingly angered populace—both of which are new to the Minnesota doctor—Osterholm later denied the impact of his statements altogether. “I’ve never discussed any of this with [the Biden Covid panel],” Osterholm told ABC News. “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.”
More importantly, Osterholm knows, it’s not going to be supported across the red American heartland that doesn’t touch an ocean. For example, when Gov. J.D. Pritzker announced a statewide “stay at home” order in Illinois on March 20, the first thing the masses did was to go out. Hoarding was rampant and grocery stores and retail chains deemed essential reported record numbers in sales. When Illinoisans felt the hand of government grow heavier, they took their money to Kentucky, Missouri, and Indiana for dinners and haircuts. If a policy isn’t federal, many in the more heavy-handed states will continue to do the same.
If another $2 trillion stimulus package were passed, it would alleviate some of the financial hardship, but as astute commentators noticed regarding the first package, much of that $2 trillion went to foundations and organizations friendly to the politicians who passed the package. How would that help a woman who owns a scrapbooking store in Kansas or a man who owns his own small print shop in Idaho? If they can file for unemployment, it may. It may not if they cannot file, but it would help National Public Radio, the Public Broadcasting
Service, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, once again. Therein lies the problem. Any spending package, especially one passed in an emergency situation, is rife with slabs of pork. Enough is spread to the working people, however, that they take it, say “thank you,” and forget about the waste. There is no reason to think a Biden stimulus package would be any different.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected]. He is also an occasional contributor to TBR history magazine and the current managing editor of Deep Truth Journal (DTJ), a new conspiracy-focused publication available from the AFP Online Store.