US, San Francisco Bay Area health experts call for 2nd shut down due to COVID-19

Santa Clara County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith stated, "The only treatment we have now is shelter-in-place."
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As of Friday, COVID-19 cases rose in more than 40 states. The CDC is forecasting there could be 175,000 deaths by August 15.

For the second day in a row, California reported a record daily number of deaths. The state has more than 435,000 cases and a 7-day test positivity average of 7.9- percent.

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"Shut it down now, and start over" is the message from health experts across the country, including several here in the Bay Area. More than 150 of them have endorsed an open letter to lawmakers, saying it's time to hit the restart button.

Among them, Dr. Travis Porco. He's a professor with the Francis I. Proctor Foundation for Research in Ophthalmology at UCSF.

"I believe everybody that signed that, endorses that, and sees this crisis for what it is- a crisis that's not gotten any better," Porco explained. "It's only gotten worse."

The letter came with the warning, "If you don't take these actions, the consequences will be measured in widespread suffering and death."

Dr. Porco adding America's struggle to contain the virus is evident on the world stage.

"I think we've already failed in comparison to many countries," he explained. "We've seen many countries act swiftly and efficiently to crush the pandemic. They're reopening and they're doing fine. We didn't. We couldn't do that."

RELATED: Bay Area lawmaker calls on California to shut back down: 'We have a cancer in our body'

Additionally, State Senator Steve Glazer recently introduced a proposal that would require residents to once again shelter-in-place. His vision would keep residents across the state doing so until the rate of positive tests over two weeks dips below two-percent.

"If our objective is to kill this virus, a shelter-in-place, as difficult as it will be- is the medicine we need to take," Glazer told ABC7 News.

"Unfortunately, we reopened too soon, and people didn't respect the need to create physical distancing in their regular conduct of life," he continued. "That has meant that infection rates continue to go higher, and higher, and higher. Hospitalizations are at record levels. People who have died, record levels."

San Jose was recently named as one of 12 cities being tracked by the feds as COVID-19 cases rise.

County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith addressing what it would take to stop the spread.

RELATED: Everything to know about California's confusing coronavirus reopening plan, summer shutdown and what comes next

"The only treatment we have now is shelter-in-place," he told ABC7 News. "So, a very vigorous effort at social distancing on a statewide level would be very effective in knocking down the spread of the virus and decreasing the amount of the virus in the community."

He continued, "It doesn't have to mean closing down a bunch of businesses. There are lots of businesses that can operate with social distancing by using certain protocols. But it does mean getting people to wear masks, to prevent gatherings, to decrease the number of people indoors, and to make sure that there is monitoring and enforcement of the rules."

If we don't, health experts fear inconsistent messaging, unenforced policies and push back over mask wearing can be devastating.

"There's nothing that's ever been less political than the coronavirus," Dr. Porco said. "I mean, the coronavirus doesn't care if you're a Democrat or Republican. Or what your religion is, or what your ethnicity is. We're just food to that thing."

The letter also implores lawmakers to listen to the experts.
Writing:

"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-percent 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."

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Porco adding, without taking action, "We don't want to see overwhelming healthcare institutions. We don't want to see people running out of ventilators and the sort of death and economic disruption that that's going to cause."

Understanding a second shutdown would be devastating for many, he explained, "I think a lot of people would love to comply with the orders, but they need to put food on the table. A lot of small businesses need help. So I think as long as we support people that we're asking sacrifices of, people will understand."

"We need you to lead," experts pleaded in the open letter. "We remind you that history has its eyes on you."

To read the full letter, click here.

INTERACTIVE: Here's the reopening status of every Bay Area county

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