MORE THAN 150 HEALTH professionals and medical experts are urging politicians to shut down the country again in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it’s to save as many lives as possible,” they said in a letter sent to the Trump administration, members of Congress and state governors this week.
The letter criticized the officials for reopening too soon and not doing enough during the shutdown to prepare. It calls for increased testing capacity and additional production of personal protective equipment.
“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,” the letter said. “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.”
The letter is a stark contrast to messaging from President Donald Trump, who has been encouraging states and schools to reopen and stay open.
On Thursday, he again said that schools need to bring students back for in-person learning so that parents can get back to work.
“The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that 5.6 million parents will be unable to return to work if schools do not reopen this year. That’s a tremendous problem,” he said at the White House. “It’s a tremendous problem. Schools have to open safely, but they have to open.”
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control released new school guidelines Thursday night after promising the documents for more than a week. The guidance places a heavy emphasis on children returning to school, but it does recommend that local officials consider closing schools if there is substantial, uncontrolled spread of the virus in the area.
While some of the nation’s largest school districts have moved to start the school year online, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that students be “physically present in school” as much as safely possible.