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WASHINGTON -- The number of U.S. deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic surpassed 250,000 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and death totals all have risen sharply across the United States in recent weeks.
In response, Matthew Wellington, U.S. PIRG’s public health campaigns director, released the following statement:
“This tragic milestone is a stark reminder that this virus will not go away on its own. Without swift, decisive, coordinated action by the federal government to minimize the damage, the death toll will mount throughout the winter, causing more grief, misery and long-term repercussions for millions of Americans.
“The most tragic part of this is that the vast majority of these deaths did not have to happen. We know how to save lives. When the virus surged in the summer, nearly 1,400 health professionals signed a letter calling for urgent action. Those recommendations, which still apply today, include getting cases down quickly by issuing temporary closures of non-essential businesses and stay-at-home orders; ramping up our ability to test widely and trace contacts of people who test positive; and reopening slowly only when the number of cases has dropped.
“While we wait for the federal government to act against COVID-19, we need more governors and mayors to lead on their own. For some, that means admitting that voluntary mask rules and half-measures -- such as curfews and reducing capacity at certain businesses -- aren’t working well enough to save lives.
“COVID-19 will kill more Americans, but it’s in our control to make sure it takes as few lives as possible.”
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