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'Hit the reset button' | Health professionals urge US shut down again in open letter

At least 150 health experts are calling on government leaders to close and start over to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

WASHINGTON — Some health experts are calling for another shut down in the U.S. as COVID-19 spreads throughout the country.

In an open letter this week to government leaders and officials, more than 150 industry professionals urge closing and restarting the response to the pandemic. The letter posted on the nonprofit U.S. Public Interest Research Group's website says, "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."

The doctors and health workers write that the country opened too fast too soon. They say nonessential businesses should close again, people need to stay home and more is required to be invested into testing, contact tracing and personal protective equipment.

The letter begins, "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."

The Public Interest Research Group tweeted Saturday that over 650 health pros are now calling for action.

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In California, one of the nation's hardest-hit states seeing surges in virus cases this month, Dr. Travis Porco is among those endorsing the letter, according to KGO-TV. The professor at the University of California, San Francisco, told the news station that he thinks the U.S. has failed compared to many other nations in dealing with the coronavirus.

Credit: AP
Visitors ride scooters through downtown San Antonio, Monday, July 20, 2020. Cases of COVID-19 continue to spike in Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

"We've seen many countries act swiftly and efficiently to crush the pandemic. They're reopening and they're doing fine," Porco said. "We didn't. We couldn't do that."

The World Health Organization said Friday that a record number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in the last 24 hours, with more than 284,000 new infections across the globe and a quarter of them coming from the U.S.

As President Trump seeks to restart the economy, he's made opening schools a key priority, saying students need to return to the classroom so their parents can return to work. He had initially demanded a full reopening of the nation's schools, but has more recently acknowledged that some may need to delay their reopening this fall.

The Associated Press contributed.

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