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6 months after global health emergency declared, doctors call on US to reset its COVID-19 response

6 months after global health emergency declared, doctors call on US to reset its COVID-19 response
Posted at 9:50 PM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 22:50:24-04

Thursday marks six months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health emergency. The coronavirus is only the sixth time a global health emergency has been declared.

Compared to the previous five emergencies, experts say the coronavirus pandemic is easily the most severe.

Here in the United States, we’re still far behind when it comes to recovery. Health security experts at Johns Hopkins University say we have seen some success in treating the virus, but there hasn't been much success in responding to it, especially when it comes to testing.

“Many states did not invest in testing and many states did not invest in contact tracers, so when you see cases spiral out of control in certain states, it's not surprising to me,” Dr. Amesh Adalja of Johns Hopkins University said. “That's exactly the recipe you would set up if you wanted cases to rise.”

Dr. Adalja says in order to tackle the spread of the virus, the US needs to prioritize testing, tracing and isolating.

Health experts across the country have also signed a letter calling on the US to shut down the country and start over. The letter includes a list of recommendations for what's needed before cities can reopen. It calls for enhanced testing capabilities, more contact tracers and more personal protective equipment.

Dr. Bill Hanage at Harvard University was one of those who signed the letter, and says safely reopening can happen, “If we look at countries like New Zealand, South Korea, then you can actually see that it is possible with sustained action to shut down, strangle the virus, throw it back to the sea, and then you can open with substantial amounts of normal economy.”

Hanage adds that while it can be done, it's yet to be seen if the US is capable of doing this.

The Association of American Medical Colleges has also offered a road map that would change the country's approach to the pandemic. It calls for some of the same things other doctors have asked for -- testing, tracing, and more PPE.

It also goes further and asks for broad health insurance coverage for people who have lost their jobs, remedying drug shortages, and establishing national standards on face coverings.

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