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Top Public Health Expert Warns Trump’s Latest Coronavirus Plan Could ‘Kill Millions’

A top public health expert has warned U.S. officials that President Donald Trump’s plan to prematurely lift restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus could result in millions of deaths.

The warning from Tom Inglesby, the director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, came as Trump said during a press conference that he was considering easing social distancing guidelines after March 30.

“We’re not going to let the cure be worse than the problem,” Trump said, noting how badly virus-induced measures have impacted businesses and workers.

But Inglesby, in a series of tweets, laid out just how bad the problem could get.

“Anyone advising the end of social distancing now, needs to fully understand what the country will look like if we do that,” Inglesby wrote. “COVID would spread widely, rapidly, terribly, could kill potentially millions in the yr ahead with huge social and economic impact across the country.”

In the U.S., there have been over 46,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and over 600 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Inglesby warned that COVID-19′s fatality rate could surge in such a scenario because hospitals would struggle to provide care for the 15% of patients expected to be severely ill due to the virus.

“Some hospitals have said publicly that within a week they will not have ventilators to treat everyone with COVID anymore,” Inglesby tweeted. “There continue to be big diagnostic limitations. … There continues to be terrible shortages in the masks that health care workers need to keep from getting sick with this disease.”

How do we reduce the speed of spread in the U.S. and how do we lower the odds that intensive care units in hospitals will run out of supplies? Large-scale social distancing, he wrote.

Social distancing guidelines, recommended by medical professionals and top U.S. public health officials, are necessary to prevent the spread of the virus. For example, China has reported few new local infections in the last week after two months of imposing strict social distancing orders.

Italy, on the other hand, failed to impose such draconian measures as the virus began to spread within its borders. Now, the Italian health care system is overwhelmed with more than 63,000 confirmed cases across the country and more than 6,000 deaths. Because there are not enough ventilators available, Italian doctors are forced to essentially decide who lives and who dies.

Italians, who have been on lockdown since March 9, have urged Americans to take the virus seriously and stay at home to avoid a similar outcome.


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