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Do we need to shut down again? Local expert says it's time to put a plan in place to slow spread of COVID-19

Infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Hotez says the U.S. is in a full-blown public health crisis right now that will only get worse without a federal plan of action.

HOUSTON — COVID-19 continues to blaze through the south at a record pace.

"We are in a full-blown public health crisis right now," said infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Hotez. "These aren't hotspots. This is widespread devastation."

Hotez said every day that goes by without action is a great loss of valuable time that is only making things worse.

"We have no choice, we have to shut things down now," Hotez said.

In Texas, record-breaking hospitalizations were reported on Sunday. Now, 10,410 COVID-19 patients are in state hospitals and the state's positivity rate is now up to a new record of 16.33%.

"I think we're heading into something unprecedented," Hotez said.

Hotez predicts 100,000 new cases a day sooner rather than later.

"Every American will know someone hospitalized with COVID-19 and that will be incredibly destabilizing," Hotez said.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo are both publicly calling for a shutdown but have no power to make it happen. Hotez said states can't do this alone either. Stopping this surge requires a federal plan.

"We have to save the country," Hotez said.

Other countries have managed to return to some sense of normalcy and keep the virus controlled. Hotez believes the U.S. can too, but the clock is ticking.

"If we take the right measures now, we can have schools, colleges and even the NFL by the fall, but we have to do some hard work," Hotez said.

Hotez said it's clear Texas and other states reopened too soon. If states were to make the same mistake with schools, the consequences could be even worse.

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