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Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via Getty Images (Common Dreams)

A nationwide lockdown of four to six weeks would help contain the coronavirus pandemic and need not cause economic hardship, according to Dr. Michael Osterholm, a top health adviser to President-elect Joe Biden, who said that paying people to stay home would limit the spread of Covid-19 in the United States and put the country on track for a smoother recovery.

In an interview with CNBC earlier this week, Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and a member of Biden's coronavirus advisory board, acknowledged that people have clashing interpretations of the meaning and consequences of a "lockdown."

Part of the problem, the epidemiologist explained, is that public health and economic health have been pitted against each other, the implication being that too many people view far-reaching interventions to get the pandemic under control as economically harmful.

"It's a false notion to keep the economy going versus Covid," Osterholm said. "When Covid is running out of control, the economy is going to be suffering mightily. So the things we have to do to get Covid under control will ultimately affect the economy in a positive way."

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