Inexplicably this country continues to show the rest of the world what gross incompetence looks like when dealing with a national public health crisis. Had we had this caliber leadership in WWII, we would have fought our enemies with bows and arrows.
Given this situation, 150 health experts wrote an open letter to U.S. leaders.
‘An open letter to America’s decision makers, on behalf of health professionals across the
Dear decision makers,
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.