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We need to come together and do what it takes to stop COVID, and save lives.

Of all the nations in the world, we’ve had the most deaths from COVID-19. More than 400,000 Americans have died, roughly the same number killed in World War II. The virus is currently spreading out of control in most states across the country.

We can’t go on like this, especially with the prospect of widespread vaccination so close. Unless we start to get our priorities straight, the death toll could reach more than 550,000 by May.

If we ever want to get this virus under control, and get some semblance of our lives back, we have to start doing things differently, and our leaders need to help us make the collective sacrifices it will take to save the lives of our family, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens.

Matt Wellington, public health campaign director, appeared on MSNBC to show that more than 1,000 health professionals signed an open letter urging President Trump and state governors to take immediate action in order to save lives.
Stay home, slow the spread

Widespread suffering and death are not inevitable, and that’s especially clear when you compare our situation to many other countries. Deaths from COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the United States are more than double those in Germany, 50 times as many as in South Korea, and 238 times as many as in New Zealand.

Our top priority has to be doing whatever we need to do to get our caseloads down, especially with new variants of the virus emerging that could be more easily transmitted. That means making the hard choice to shut down wherever and whenever the virus is spreading out of control. And unfortunately, right now that means most of the country. 

We should also do the simple thing that we know can curb the virus’s spread: mandating and enforcing mask-wearing outside whenever physical distancing isn’t possible, and at all times when indoors. By closing non-essential businesses, ensuring people stay home, and enforcing mask-wearing we can effectively slow the transmission of this virus and prevent thousands more from dying. 

No doubt shutting down will be extremely difficult, and require real sacrifice from everyone. Our state leaders are under enormous pressure from people arguing that shutting down our economy will cause more suffering, or that the economic cost is just too high a price to pay. Saving lives has got to be our top priority, and what’s more, leading economists have gone on record arguing that the only way to restore the economy is by addressing the pandemic itself. Policymakers should provide financial relief for Americans to be able to stay home so that we can slow the spread.

A clear path to recovery

To defeat COVID-19 and get our country back on the road to recovery, we need to follow through on what public health professionals have been saying all along: Get cases extremely low, and then keep them that way through an aggressive testing, tracing and isolation protocol. At the same time, we need to use all of our resources and ingenuity to vaccinate broad swaths of the public against the coronavirus. 

There’s a lot of work to do. According to the Brown School of Public Health and Harvard Global Health Institute, we need to do about five times as much testing as we’re doing now to suppress the virus. We still don’t have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves to keep essential workers safe. And the vaccine rollout is moving far too slowly. 

The primary fix to these problems is robust federal funding and coordination, something that’s been sorely lacking since day one of the pandemic. Congress should swiftly approve President Biden’s funding requests to boost vaccination, testing, and PPE production. 

What it takes to stop COVID and save lives

If we don’t take all of these actions, or stop at half measures, then the consequences will be measured in even more suffering and death. Few people living today remember what it was like to live through a world war, but that’s what we’re in, and we’re going to have to sacrifice if we want to save ourselves and each other. Just as the greatest generation did, we need to step up to what history has delivered.

That’s why we're organizing an army of medical experts, caregivers, emergency workers and everyday people, calling on our leaders to do what it takes to beat COVID. We’re calling on state and federal lawmakers to tell us the truth about the virus, even when it’s hard; to take bold action to save lives, even when it means shutting down again; to harness our collective resources to provide the testing and contact tracing it will take to contain the virus, and vaccinate enough people to eventually end the pandemic. 

Send a message to your governor

Hundreds of Americans are dying from COVID every day, and the death toll will continue to climb until our leaders fully commit to defeating the virus.