Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, is advocating for closures of “indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, and also private social gatherings” to address the spread of the coronavirus.
“Places that we know are big contributors to transmission are indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, and also private social gatherings of friends and family in the home,” Gounder said in a Fox Business interview, Breitbart reported. She added that those “are really the places we need to target for closures.”
Targeted closures instead of blanket lockdowns
Gounder also said that Biden’s task force does not think “the draconian lockdowns, shutdowns that we had in the spring” are warranted during this wave of the outbreak and argues that schools should stay open if levels of transmission remain low there.
Because more is known about the virus than was the case in March, she said, we can “be much more targeted about how we tighten up some of our measures. I think of it like a dimmer switch, whereas before we had an on and off light switch. So, we can dial up and dial down in a much more granular fashion.”
Some states locking back down
So far, only a few large cities like Chicago and Philadelphia have re-instituted lockdowns that are similar in any fashion to the complete shutdowns of nonessential businesses and the stay-at-home orders many states implemented in March, when it was feared that the virus was killing 3 to 5% of those who became infected with it.
Michigan’s Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer has implemented a large number of new restrictions, including moving high schools and colleges to virtual learning and shuttering indoor dining in bars and restaurants, but even those are more targeted.
Still, many Republicans think she is going too far and some in the state legislature are calling for her impeachment over the new restrictions.
New and existing treatments have reduced the death rate down to a fraction of a percent for non-elderly people, and schools have seen very low rates of infection, but it remains to be seen how a President Biden, should he be certified in December, will approach the pandemic.
Gounder is an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center and assistant professor at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine who has covered Ebola, Zika, and other diseases as a medical journalist.
She said that the task force as a whole has not recommended a national lockdown so far, calling the view a “consensus.”
While I still lament the loss of personal freedom and responsibility that has occurred since the pandemic began, as well as what shutting down bars and restaurants will do to the already-battered industry, it does seem hopeful that the Biden task force wants to avoid a national lockdown and use targeted measures based on how and where the virus is actually making large numbers of people sick.
Now if they would only start focusing on hospitalizations and death rates rather than new cases when many of them are extraordinarily mild, then we might be able to get somewhere with a more realistic response.