Aug 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden says he would issue nationwide stay-at-home order in face of COVID-flu nightmare

Biden speaks with American flags behind him

Joe Biden accepts the Democratic Party nomination on Aug. 20. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden told ABC News on Friday that, if elected, he would issue a nationwide stay-at-home order at the recommendation of scientists if coronavirus infections surged in January alongside the flu season.

Why it matters: The country's coronavirus crisis could worsen this winter if hospitals are overwhelmed with patients requiring care from COVID-19 at the same time as the flu. The severity of the influenza season also depends on how many Americans get flu shots.

Where it stands: “I think we can get through this without having to revert back to a shutdown," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told Politico early this month — but only if Americans commit to basic mitigation efforts like wearing masks, physically distancing, following hygiene recommendations and avoiding crowds.

What he's saying: "I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists," Biden told ABC News' David Muir, in an interview alongside running mate Sen. Kamala Harris.

The big picture: Over half of Americans surveyed in a NPR/Ipsos poll in late July said they supported a mandatory, nationwide order to shelter at home for two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Go deeper: What's needed to prevent a COVID-flu nightmare

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