Over 150 US medical experts, researchers, nurses, and teachers have signed a letter to the Trump administration and other political leaders, urging them to shut down the country and start over to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The experts wrote, “The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it’s to save as many lives as possible. 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 added.
Their suggestions come as the nation recorded more than 4 million cases of COVID-19, with over 147,000 deaths so far.
On Thursday, CDC officials told CNN through an email, “COVID-19 will end up as a Top 10 leading cause of death” this year.
Currently, in the United States, heart disease and cancer are the two leading causes of death, contributing to the overall half of all deaths each year.
The experts’ recommendations have come after many states started reporting a surge in new cases, shortages of hospital beds, high unemployment rates, and political pressure to make decisions for schools and businesses.
The letter mentioned that the only way to reopen the nation safely is to strictly follow certain protocols that public health officials deem necessary for containing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Some protocols include daily testing, a workforce of large contact tracers, and access to more personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep frontline health workers safe.
The letter also stated that all non-essential businesses must be closed, with restaurants providing only takeout service. Masks should be made mandatory and people should only leave their homes to buy food and medicine or get some fresh air and exercise.
“If you don’t take these actions, the consequences will be measured in widespread suffering and death,” the letter warned.
Public health campaign director for the advocacy group U.S. PIRG Matt Wellington said, “Our decision-makers need to hit the reset button. Continuing on the path we’re on now will result in widespread suffering and death. And for what? Health experts laid out criteria for how to reopen safely. It’s time to listen to them.”
A recent report from the CDC has mentioned that more than 40% of American adults have at least one underlying health issue that may put them at a greater risk of severe COVID-19 illness. The report analyzed five medical conditions that can put a person at risk of severe coronavirus infection – such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).