150 Medical Experts Are Urging U.S. Officials to "Shut It Down Now"
In a new open letter, the nation's top medical experts tell leaders to "shut it down now, and start over."
On Wednesday, July 22, California recorded new highs in both coronavirus deaths and total number of cases. Meanwhile, Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia recorded their highest day of new COVID cases, while Alabama, Idaho, and Texas had their highest numbers of coronavirus-related deaths in a day, according to The New York Times. As more and more states across the country hit the "critical" barometer in terms of COVID outbreaks, it seems to indicate more serious action is needed to stop the virus from spreading. And, according to more than 150 of the nation's top medical experts, it's time for America to "shut it down now, and start over." In an open letter titled "Shut It Down, Start Over, Do It Right" sent to President Donald Trump, his administration, and governors nationwide on Wednesday, medical professionals and public health experts say that it's time for a full shutdown to reboot the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the letter, which you can read in full here, the experts write: "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 activities."
They add that: "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. "
According to the experts, U.S. leaders should do these eight things right now:
- Close non-essential businesses.
- Limit restaurant service to take-out.
- Urge people to stay home, and only go out to get food, medicine, exercise, or fresh air.
- Make masks mandatory in all situations, both indoor and outdoor, where people interact with others.
- Bar non-essential interstate travel.
- Massively ramp up testing.
- Build the necessary infrastructure for effective contact tracing.
- Provide a safety net for those who need it.
"Then, and only then, we can try a little more opening, one small step at a time," the experts write.
The letter was organized by the advocacy organization U.S. Public Interest Research Group. It's signed by doctors, epidemiologists, physicians, and health experts from Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, Brown, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania, like Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, vice provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania; William Hanage, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health; and Angela Rasmussen, PhD, virologist at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. And the list continues to grow.
Similarly, the Harvard Global Health Institute's COVID Risk Level Map indicates that 11 states are in need of a shutdown. Ashisha Jha, MD, director of HGHI, tweeted on July 11 that he was "worried [these states] are heading towards full shutdown unless [their] path changes." In the large majority of them, the trajectory has not changed in the two weeks that have followed.
After a White House document was obtained by the non-profit news group the Center for Public Integrity and leaked in mid-July, Jha told CNN's Jake Tapper that states in the "red zone" should be following the document's orders and shutting down.
Meanwhile, Anthony Fauci, MD, has recently made clear that he does not believe the country needs to return to a full lockdown. But in a July 15 interview with The Atlantic, he said we should push the "reset button." And here's how he recommends doing that: This Is How Dr. Fauci Says We Can Push a "Reset Button" on Coronavirus.