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Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank president Neel Kashkari in New York City last October. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

A top Federal Reserve official told CBS Sunday that a "really hard" four- to six-week lockdown could benefit the U.S. economy as Congress "has the resources to support those who are most hurting" during the coronavirus pandemic.

Details: Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank president Neel Kashkari said a short lockdown "could get the case count down so that our testing and our contact tracing was actually enough to control it the way that it's happening in the Northeast right now."

  • If that doesn't happen, "we just have this raging virus spreading throughout the country with flare-ups and local lockdowns for the next year or two," Kashkari said.
  • He predicted that "many, many more" small and big businesses would file for bankruptcy, leading to a "much slower recovery for all of us," with businesses taking longer to rebuild and then to bring workers back in.

Why it matters: As the country continues to grapple with the outbreak, the U.S. economy shrank at an annualized 32.9% rate in the second quarter — the worst-ever contraction on records that date back to 1947, Axios' Courtenay Brown notes.

Of note: Kashkari said the U.S. personal savings rate had "taken off." "Before the crisis, it was around 8%," he added. "Now it's around 20%."

  • Americans who are still working and saving more enables more resources for Congress to support those who've been laid off, Kashkari explained.
  • "Right now the U.S. can fund itself at very, very low rates. Congress should use this opportunity to support the American people and the American economy," he added.

The big picture: Coronavirus cases began declining or holding steady in most states by the end of last month. However, two of the worst U.S. hot spots, California and Florida, have shown little improvement after weeks of deterioration.

  • White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx noted Sunday the U.S. has shifted into a new phase of the pandemic, after infections spread further into rural areas.
  • Against this backdrop, lawmakers are conducting negotiations on the next stimulus bill, which have stalled amid a congressional deadlock.

What they're saying: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told ABC's "This Week" Sunday, "There's obviously a need to support workers and support the economy. ... On the other hand, we have to be careful about not piling on enormous amount of debts for future generation."

  • Per CNBC, President Trump said last week, "I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that are not opening."

By the numbers: More than 154,800 people have died of COVID-19 and almost 4.7 million people have tested positive for the virus in the U.S., per Johns Hopkins.

Go deeper

Nov 11, 2020 - Health

U.S. sees record 131,000 COVID-19 infections as hospitalizations hit peak

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. confirmed a record-high 130,989 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, while the number of people currently hospitalized with the virus hit a peak of 61,964, according to a tally by the COVID Tracking Project.

By the numbers: The spread of the virus is showing no signs of slowing, as the U.S. surpassed 10 million reported cases on Monday. The 15 days with the highest number of new cases have all taken place over the past 18 days.

Updated 21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Americans shrug off Omicron, Axios-Ipsos poll finds — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise."
  2. Vaccines: Omicron gives a shot to boosters — U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down.
  3. States: Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers.
  4. World: EU drug regulator backs mixing COVID vaccines — Poor global equity likely in COVID pill access — CDC raises travel advisories for France, Portugal to highest level amid COVID surge.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Nov 10, 2020 - Health

Italy tightens COVID-19 restrictions for five hard-hit regions

Duomo Square is seen empty in Florence, Italy, as the country imposes new restrictions. Photo: Paolo Lo Debole/Getty Image

Italy has announced it is tightening coronavirus restrictions for five regions experiencing a wave of cases, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: Like much of Europe, Italy is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases nationwide, straining the country's hospitals and health care system.