With the number of coronavirus cases rising in many U.S. states, medical professionals and public health experts are urging the public to protect themselves against COVID-19 by doing what has been shown to work.
“We are urging the American public to take the simple steps we know will help stop the spread of the virus: wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing, and washing hands,” said the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association in an open letter published Monday.
“We are not powerless in this public health crisis, and we can defeat it in the same way we defeated previous threats to public health — by allowing science and evidence to shape our decisions and inform our actions,” the letter continues.
The physicians, nurses, hospital and health system leaders, researchers and public health experts behind the letter say the dramatic uptick in COVID-19 cases is “erasing our hard-won gains” following months of staying at home and physical distancing.
They say hospitals in some states are at or nearing their intensive care unit capacity and shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies “continue to pose a dire threat to health care workers and patients alike.”
Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. is “going in the wrong direction” with the coronavirus, surging badly enough that some regions are putting the entire country at risk. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said he “would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 (COVID-19 cases) a day if this does not turn around.”
In the letter, the medical professionals agreed with Fauci, saying: “COVID-19 is not behind us and we must resist confusing re-opening with returning to normalcy. Doing so will escalate this crisis and result in more suffering and death.”
The AHA, AMA and ANA thanked everyone who has been following public health guidance to stop the spread of the virus. “Your actions are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Moving forward, we must all remain vigilant and continue taking steps to mitigate the spread of the virus to protect each other and our loved ones,” the letter states. “There is only one way we will get through this – together.”
The Associated Press contributed.