Could we see a national lockdown if Joe Biden wins the presidency? Bay Area advisers explain

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A top Bay Area doctor has consulted presidential candidate Joe Biden's team on an effective response to the pandemic.

Dr. Bob Wachter, the chair of UCSF's Department of Medicine, led a discussion Thursday analyzing key strategies that could impact policies post-election. Wachter has consulted close advisers to Biden's campaign, specifically explaining the success San Francisco has had responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Do you think we could see a national lockdown?" ABC7's Stephanie Sierra asked.

"I don't think so. It would be inappropriate to lockdown San Francisco for example, because our transmission rate is low," said Wachter.

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Instead of a national lockdown, Wachter says the country needs a national strategy.
"What we need is clear national standards in this community, state or region. Your cases are above this amount so the recommendation there to keep these things open and close these things," he said. "That shouldn't be left up to the state, they should be getting guidance from the CDC."

According to Wachter, the message is clear: You can't separate science and politics.

"How do you bring a sense of community and sense of trust, everything from mask wearing to a vaccine, that's probably one of the most destructive things we've seen in the last 10 months," he said.

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Wachter says the biggest hurdle facing a possible Biden administration is rebuilding trust when it comes to masking, testing, and vaccines. Does that mean a national mask mandate?

"I don't doubt that there should be a national mandate to wear masks," he said. "Part of the challenge for the administration will be deciding the most effective way. Is it a federal mandate? Is it pushing all the governors to do that? Or is reclaiming the normal role of the CDC?"

Andy Slavitt served as the Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the Obama administration. If elected, he expects Biden to work with governors to set universal masking guidelines that follow the data.

"We did some analysis that shows for every 10 percent more of the population that's non complaint, it's a 100,000 more deaths, roughly speaking, rule of thumb," said Slavitt.

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Ezekiel Emanuel, who served as a special adviser on health policy also under the Obama administration, explained the message on masking would come at the most critical time of the pandemic, especially as the nation prepares for a record number of COVID cases and hospitalizations during the holidays.

"We're wired to think, if I'm not seeing a big increase now, I don't think it's here," Emanuel said. "It's here. You're just not seeing it. You will see it two, four, six weeks from now. That is logic people haven't caught onto yet."

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