- 150 doctors and health professionals recently penned a letter urging lawmakers to implement another nationwide shutdown in order to combat the coronavirus.
- The letter argues that non-essential businesses should be closed and that restaurants should only offer take-out options.
Despite the optimism that accompanied states reopening back in June, the reality on the ground has been far from encouraging. The number of new coronavirus cases across a dozen U.S. states has skyrocketed in recent weeks. Earlier this month, for instance, Florida recorded 15,000 new coronavirus cases within a 24-hour period, a figure which shattered the previous record. And just this weekend, the number of new coronavirus cases hit record highs in more than a dozen states. All the while, efforts to return to a semblance of normalcy are starting to backfire. As a prime example, 17 players on the Miami Marlins recently tested positive for Covid-19, a development which may ultimately put the entire MLB season at risk.
All of the above, coupled with the fact that many people simply refuse to adhere to basic COVID-19 safety guidelines, recently compelled a group of 150 doctors and health professionals to band together and pen a letter urging U.S. leaders to implement another shutdown. While another nationwide quarantine is certainly the last thing anyone wants, the doctors take the position that it’s the only way to truly keep the coronavirus at bay. Alongside stay-at-home restrictions, the letter also calls for improved testing capacity and easier access to PPE equipment like masks.
The sad reality is that many countries across the world have firmly put the coronavirus in their rearview mirror. In the U.S., however, it’s as much of a problem now as it was back in April. And with the number of new coronavirus cases soaring, the U.S. recently recorded its fourth million COVID-19 case. What’s more, the number of daily coronavirus deaths has eclipsed the 1,000 mark for a few days running now. The doctors behind the aforementioned letter caution that if more direct action isn’t taken, upwards of 200,000 Americans will die by November 1.
The entirety of the letter reads as follows:
Hit the reset button.
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.
In March, people went home and stayed there for weeks, to keep themselves and their
neighbors safe. You didn’t use the time to set us up to defeat the virus. And then you
started to reopen anyway, and too quickly.
Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st.
Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a
tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but non-essential
Get our priorities straight.
More than 117,000 Americans had died of COVID-19 by mid-June. If our response had been as effective as Germany’s, estimates show that we would have had only 36,000 COVID-19 deaths in that period in the United States. If our response had been as effective as South Korea, Australia, or Singapore’s, fewer than 2,000 Americans would have died. We could have prevented 99% of those COVID-19 deaths. But we didn’t. The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it’s to save as many lives as possible. And reopening before suppressing the virus isn’t going to help the economy. Economists have gone on record saying that the only way to “restore the economy is to address the pandemic itself,” pointing out that until we find a way to boost testing and develop and distribute a vaccine, open or not, people will not be in the mood to participate.
Listen to the experts.
Public health professionals have made clear that even after we’ve contained the virus by staying at home, in order to reopen American cities and towns safely, we will need:
— Enough daily testing capacity to test everyone with flu-like symptoms plus anyone they have been in close contact with over the last 2 weeks (at least 10 additional tests per symptomatic person). We currently have only 35% of the testing capacity we need to meet that threshold. The more people get sick, the more testing is required.
— A workforce of contact tracers large enough to trace all current cases. That’s 210,000 more contact tracers than we had in April, but the number keeps going up as infections rise. Most states are far short of the number of contact tracers they need.
In addition, we need more personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep essential workers like health professionals, emergency responders, and grocery store clerks safe.
Shut it down now, and start over.
Non-essential businesses should be closed. 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.
We need that protocol in place until case numbers recede to a level at which we have the capacity to effectively test and trace. Then, and only then, we can try a little more opening, one small step at a time.
You should bar non-essential interstate travel. When people travel freely between states, the good numbers in one state can go bad quickly.
If you don’t take these actions, the consequences will be measured in widespread suffering and death.
We need you to lead.
Tell the American people the truth about the virus, even when it’s hard. Take bold action to save lives — even when it means shutting down again. Unleash the resources needed to contain the virus: massively ramping up testing, building the necessary infrastructure for effective contact tracing, and providing a safety net for those who need it. Many of the actions of our government thus far have fallen short of what the moment demands. Mr. Trump, federal administration, honorable governors: we remind you that history has its eyes on you.