President-elect Joe Biden rules out national lockdown as Covid-19 surges, says he will 'shut down the virus'
'I’m going to shut down the virus, that’s what I’m going to shut down. I’ll say it again: No national shutdown. No national shutdown,' said Biden
President-elect Joe Biden has said he would not order a nationwide lockdown, even as Covid-19 pandemic has refused to die down and the death toll in the US crossed 252,000. The Democrat, who turned 78 on Friday, November 20, was a bit annoyed when he was asked about a probable lockdown in a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday, November 19.
“I am not going to shut down the economy, period,” Biden said, following a video conference with the executive committee of the National Governors Association, comprising five Republican and as many Democratic governors. He was also a bit irked saying “everybody asks that question every single time”. He said he would follow science.
“I’m going to shut down the virus, that’s what I’m going to shut down. I’ll say it again: No national shutdown. No national shutdown,” Biden repeated. “Every region, every area, every community can be different. So there’s no circumstance that I can see which would require a total national shutdown.”
Biden’s advisors Dr Vivek Murthy and Dr Atul Gawande have also pushed back on the idea of a national lockdown. He said he and the governors discussed a mandate requiring Americans to wear masks. It “shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” he said. “It’s not a political statement. It’s a patriotic duty.”
Biden’s words came shortly before Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, appealed to the people of America to stay vigilant as the pandemic surged. Vice President Mike Pence, who leads incumbent President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, also appeared for the first press conference since summer to express confidence amid the worsening situation. "We approach this moment with the confidence of experience." Pence said in the hour-long briefing, adding: "We know the American people know what to do." The veep tried to show that the situation was under control, a day after the US witnessed its highest daily death toll since May. The task force, however, did not field any question from the media.
Coming back to Biden’s take on the situation, the president-elect said there was no circumstance that would require a complete national shutdown. He opined that such a move would be counterproductive.
In August, Biden said he would do 'whatever it takes'
It may be mentioned here that in August, Biden, who had just been endorsed as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee to take in Trump, said in a joint interview with his running mate Kamala Harris that he would do “whatever it takes” to combat the virus’s spread within the US, including calling for a lockdown if necessary.
“I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists,” Biden told ABC’s David Muir in the interview. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to save lives.”
The veteran politician, on that occasion, strongly disagreed with Trump’s opinion against shutting down the country again to say: “We cannot get the country moving until we control the virus. That is the fundamental flaw of this administration’s thinking to begin with. In order to keep the country running and moving — and the economy growing and people employed — you have to fix the virus.”
On Thursday, Biden spoke as a number of states were busy imposing measures to restrict capacity at bars and restaurants and size of gatherings, especially with the Thanksgiving holiday starting. Recently, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany slammed Democrats-ruled states like Oregon and California for coming up with the restrictions, saying they were un-American.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving.