Medical professionals sign open letter to shut down economy for virus

UA doctors call for shutdown

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Hundreds of medical professionals and scientists have signed on to an open letter from U.S PIRG, a public interest group, which says the country needs to take drastic steps to bring the coronavirus under control.

The solution they suggest is to shut down the economy a second time, opening it very slowly after the virus is under control.

“We’re in real trouble in the country,” said Michael Mallozzi, a PhD in microbiology at the University of Arizona. “People should know we’re still in the first wave.”

And that first wave is out of control after states shut down and then re-opened too soon.

The hope among the professionals is the shut down can be replicated and the re-opening will be done only after metrics have been reached and the virus is under control.

“The truth is the economy will never recover as long as the pandemic continues to rage,” he said. “So until we get it under control, we can’t have a real economy.”

Mallozzi has experience in both science and economics.

He was co-owner of Borderlands Brewery until it shut down because of the virus.

And as a scientist, he says “it’s been challenging to witness this country’s response to the pandemic which is clouded with partisan spin.”

But there are those in the medical community who believe shutting down right now is a bad call.

I think we have to be sensitive to how people are feeling emotionally right now,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the Pima County Health Director. “I think there’s a lot of worry about business and people’s employment.”

That’s why she believes it’s a balancing act between health, mental health and the economy.

“What we need to do is the little things we know make a difference,” Dr. Cullen said.

Like wearing a mask, social distancing, testing and contact tracing.

Arizona slowed the outbreak because of those small things but the people have to be willing to do it for a long period of time.

“People should know we’re in the first wave,” Mallozzi said. “We’re expecting to see multiple waves.”

Which is why he believes it makes sense to shut down now to mitigate the future waves.

“The jobs will never come back until people safe and we get this virus under control,” he said. “We’re not going to bet this virus under control until we do the hard things.”

And that he says, “is the bottom line.”

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