The president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve thinks a national lockdown is required for the U.S. to get a handle on the COVID-19 crisis.
Neel Kashkari shared his views in a New York Times op-ed Friday alongside another prominent Minnesotan, University of Minnesota director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy Dr. Michael Osterholm.
In a piece titled "How to Crush the Virus until a Vaccine Arrives," the pair argue that the "sacrifice" of committing to a restrictive national lockdown for 6 weeks would ultimately save "thousands of lives."
The alternative is the continued patchwork response that sees states respond with restrictions of varying severity, which has led to the virus spreading across the country.
If a national lockdown was enacted, Kashkari and Osterholm believe it would reduce the spread of the virus to 1 new case per 100,000 people.
The initial outbreak of COVID-19 did see most states implemented relatively strict lockdown measures, but most have now been loosened or lifted completely, with the death toll in the U.S. now standing at more than 160,000.
"Why did the United States’ Covid-19 containment response fail, particularly compared with the successful results of so many nations in Asia, Europe and even our neighbor Canada?" Kashkari and Osterholm write.
"Simply, we gave up on our lockdown efforts to control virus transmission well before the virus was under control. Many other countries didn’t let up until the number of cases was greatly reduced, even in places that had extensive outbreaks in March and April.
"Once the number of new cases in those areas was driven to less than one per 100,000 people per day as a result of their lockdowns, limiting the increase of new cases was possible with a combination of testing, contact tracing, case isolation and extensive monitoring of positive tests."