‘Shut It Down’: Public Health Experts Call for a Do-Over to Contain Coronavirus

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By Emiene Wright

July 28, 2020

“The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it’s to save as many lives as possible.” 

In an open letter sent to the Trump administration, lawmakers, and governors last week, more than 150 health and medical professionals urged leaders to “hit the reset button” on moves to reopen the economy as coronavirus cases surge.

“Of all the nations in the world, we’ve had the most deaths from COVID-19. At the same time, we’re in the midst of ‘reopening our economy,’ exposing more and more people to coronavirus and watching numbers of cases — and deaths — skyrocket,” wrote the experts, which include researchers and doctors from Harvard, Stanford, and UC Berkeley. “The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it’s to save as many lives as possible.” 

The letter cites a number of alarming statistics. Of the 117,000 infection-related deaths recorded by mid-June, 99% of them could have been prevented with a steady, scientific, and effective response, according to the writers.

As of Tuesday morning, the U.S. had more than 4.3 million confirmed cases and 148,298 deaths, according to the John Hopkins global tracker. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicted in an email to CNN that COVID-19 will be a leading cause of death in the U.S. this year.

RELATED: A List of All the Ways the Trump Administration Failed Its COVID-19 Response

“Listen to the experts,” the letter begs. It also included a number of safety protocols that have been widely touted by the CDC and other organizations, including increased testing capacity, a “workforce of contact tracers large enough to trace all current cases,” and enough personal protective equipment to keep essential workers safe.

“Non-essential businesses should be closed,” the experts write. “Restaurant service should be limited to take-out. People should stay home, going out only to get food and medicine or to exercise and get fresh air. Masks should be mandatory in all situations, indoors and outdoors, where we interact with others.”

“If you don’t take these actions, the consequences will be measured in widespread suffering and death,” the letter warned.

The authors also called upon political leaders to “tell the truth about the virus, even when it’s hard.” 

On Monday, President Trump garnered criticism for spreading false information about an unproven coronavirus treatment.


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