Dr. Michael Osterholm calls for 'national standards' for COVID-19 mitigation efforts

Dr. Michael Osterholm, the University of Minnesota epidemiologist who is on President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 task force, emphasized the need for “national standards” when it comes to mitigation efforts amid the surge in coronavirus in the United States. 

Speaking on call with reporters Friday alongside Minnesota health officials and Gov. Tim Walz, Osterholm said the U.S. could reach more than 200,000 cases a day by December if no changes are made. 

“One of the things that we’ve been confronted with is an absence of leadership right now that has provided the kind of federal support that we need,” he said. 

When it comes to COVID-19 mitigation efforts - whether it's mask mandates, testing or limiting private gatherings like Walz did Friday - there needs to be a national response coordinated among the 50 states, he said.

“We need national standards. One of the problems we have right now is we’ve got 50 governors who all have been left to their own to come up with recommendations for what to do.” 

Earlier this week, Gov. Walz criticized the current national approach, saying "We would not have fought World War II 50 states at a time. No other nation did it and, as a result, no other nation had the outcomes we’ve had."

There have been more than 200,000 total cases of COVID-19 reported in Minnesota and more than 2,000 deaths, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

In the U.S., there have now been over 10.5 million COVID-19 cases and over 242,000 deaths since the pandemic began.