A coronavirus adviser to Joe Biden has encouraged the president-elect to follow a New Zealand and Australia-style lockdown for four to six weeks as he warned of an approaching "Covid hell".
Dr Michael Osterholm said a US national lockdown may be the best way to limit deaths and new coronavirus infections until a vaccine arrives.
Osterholm, the director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, was appointed on Monday to Biden's 12-member Covid "advisory board".
He said such a lockdown would help the country bring the virus under control, "like they did in New Zealand and Australia".
Osterholm claimed that the US economy will not suffer as a result, if enough money is borrowed to pay wages during the shutdowns.
"We could pay for a package right now to cover all of the wages, lost wages for individual workers for losses to small companies to medium-sized companies or city, state, county governments. We could do all of that," Osterholm told Yahoo Finance. "If we did that, then we could lockdown for four-to-six weeks."
Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations have surged across the US with single-day highs across the country - although deaths are still about half what they were in the peak in April.
Osterholm warned earlier this week that the country is facing a looming crisis, with cases rising and the likelihood more people will grow tired of wearing masks and social distancing, suffering from so-called "pandemic fatigue".
He said the next three to four months will be the darkest period for the pandemic as new daily cases continue to reach far above 100,000.
"What America has to understand is that we are about to enter Covid hell," he told CNBC. "It is happening.
"We have not even come close to the peak and, as such, our hospitals are now being overrun. The next three to four months are going to be, by far, the darkest of the pandemic."
Osterholm said what the country needs now is leadership to keep the coronavirus pandemic in check and get the economy on track until a vaccine is approved and distributed.
He also referred to a New York Times op-ed written by him and Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari in August in which they had argued for a wider national lockdown.
"The problem with the March-to-May lockdown was that it was not uniformly stringent across the country. For example, Minnesota deemed 78 per cent of its workers essential," they wrote in the New York Times. "To be effective, the lockdown has to be as comprehensive and strict as possible."
Osterholm said if a national lockdown was enforced there it would act as a circuit-breaker for the virus infections.
"We could really watch ourselves cruising into the vaccine availability in the first and second quarter of next year while bringing back the economy long before that," he said.