Health Care Professionals Call for Nationwide Shutdown Amid Rising Cases

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Hundreds of health care professionals from institutions across the country are calling for a full nationwide shutdown and for lawmakers to come up with a new comprehensive strategy for beating COVID-19.

The group, which includes professionals from institutions including Harvard Medical School, Yale University and UCSF, wrote an open letter to government officials demanding the action and sent it to all state governors, members of Congress and the Trump administration, arguing that more people in the United State are dying from COVID-19 than in anywhere else in the world while the U.S. is reopening its economy. 

"The strength of the economy depends on the health of the people," Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, a Bay Area infectious diseases physician and Johns Hopkins University fellow, said.

Kuppalli signed the open letter. She thinks the priority should be saving as many lives as possible, not reopening the economy quickly.

"It actually causes more damage if we continue to open things up and then close them again," she said.

The group wants all non-essential businesses to close, restaurant service to be limited to take-out only and the public to stay home, unless they are going out to get food, medicine or exercise. The group also wants masks to be mandatory in all situations and a ban on non-essential interstate travel.

"We need to ramp up testing," Kuppalli said. "Our testing in this country is really not where it should be. There's a study that came out that showed that for every one positive case, you generate about 10 to 25 contacts."

How Coronavirus Has Grown in Each State — in 1 Chart

This chart shows the cumulative number of cases per state by number of days since the 50th case.

Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC

The group estimates that more than 200,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by Nov. 1 unless lawmakers take more serious action.

As California continues to grapple with rising coronavirus cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced more protections for essential workers, like better worker compensation and more paid sick leave.

“For us to be able to be successful in terms of stopping the spread of COVID-19, extinguishing COVID-19, which we will do, it depends on our ability to keep our essential workers safe,” he said.

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