Doctors Urge America to 'Shut Down' and 'Start Over'
Increasing infections, hospital ICUs reaching capacity, and a compounding death toll that has already surpassed predictions made at the start of the pandemic is the current reality we are facing in America today. As the country continues to break the wrong kind of records in the battle against COVID-19, a group of top experts is urging the government to take action in a major way—by completely shutting down the country once again.
A letter to political leaders signed by over 150 of the country's top medical experts, scientists, teachers, nurses and others has a simple plea to policymakers: "Shut it down. Start it over. Do it right."
"Shut it Down"
"The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it's to save as many lives as possible," they wrote in the document, sent to the Trump administration, leading members of Congress and state governors and published online Thursday.
"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."
Reopen When Protocols Have Been Met
They also point out that "reopening before suppressing the virus isn't going to help the economy." Referencing economics, they explain that the only way to "restore the economy is to address the pandemic itself," also 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."
"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" a variety of protocols need to be met—which haven't been yet. These include having enough daily testing to test everyone with flu-like symptoms, more PPE, and enough contact tracers to be able to track all current cases.
Close Non-Essential Businesses
Additionally, "Non-essential businesses should be closed," they 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."
Bar Non-Essential Interstate Travel
They also discourage travel. "You should bar non-essential interstate travel. When people travel freely between states, the good numbers in one state can go bad quickly," the letter continues. "If you don't take these actions, the consequences will be measured in widespread suffering and death."
"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," the letter concludes.
As for yourself, no matter where you live, to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.