But talk of lockdowns are especially sensitive. For one, they’re nearly impossible for a president to enact on his own, requiring bipartisan support from state and local officials. But more broadly, they’re a political flashpoint that could undermine Biden’s efforts to unify a deeply divided country.

“It would create a backlash,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security who added that such a move could make the situation worse if people don’t comply with restrictions. “Lockdowns can have consequences that diminish the value of such an approach.”…

Biden himself fueled some of the confusion about his stance on lockdowns during the campaign. He initially told ABC he would “listen to the scientists” if they advised him to shut down the country, and then took a more nuanced position…

Even if a nationwide lockdown made sense, polling shows that Americans’ appetite for a closure waning. Gallup found that only 49% of Americans said they’d be “very likely” to comply with a monthlong stay-at-home order because of an outbreak of the virus. A full third said they’d be very or somewhat unlikely to comply with such an order.