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Biden Advisors Debate Nationwide Lockdown

But they're nearly impossible for a president to enact alone
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 14, 2020 10:00 AM CST

(Newser) – Joe Biden faces a decision unlike any other incoming president: whether to back a short-term national lockdown to finally arrest a raging pandemic, the AP reports. For now, it's a question the president-elect would prefer to avoid. In the week since he defeated President Trump, Biden has devoted most of his public remarks to encouraging Americans to wear a mask and view the coronavirus as a threat that has no regard for political ideology. But the debate has been livelier among members of the coronavirus advisory board Biden announced this week. One member, Dr. Michael Osterholm, suggested a four- to six-week lockdown with financial aid for Americans whose livelihoods would be affected. He later walked back his remarks and was rebutted by two other members of the panel.

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That's a sign of the tough dynamic Biden will face when he is inaugurated in January. He campaigned as a more responsible steward of America's public health than President Trump is and has been blunt about the challenges that lie ahead for the country, warning of a "dark winter" as cases spike. But talk of lockdowns are especially sensitive. For one, they're nearly impossible for a president to enact on his own, requiring bipartisan support from state and local officials. But more broadly, they're a political flashpoint that could undermine Biden's efforts to unify a deeply divided country. "It would create a backlash," said one scholar. During his first public appearance since losing the election, Trump noted on Friday that he wouldn't support a lockdown.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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