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Back to normal by October? Dr. Hotez sends the White House a national, unified coronavirus plan

The Houston doctor says the federal government should establish a national containment goal. States must agree or be required to meet it before fully reopening.

HOUSTON — Infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Hotez is outlining a national plan that he says could get the country back to normal by October.

"This is just not a normal life anymore," Hotez said. "We have to take steps."

Hotez has watched COVID-19 cases and deaths climb for months. He says he's still waiting for a national response.

"This fragmented approach (of) putting states in the lead has clearly failed and my evidence is that in the United States we have the most COVID cases on the planet," Hotez said.

It's why he published what he calls an "October Plan." They are steps he hopes the U.S. government takes to contain the virus.

"I sent it to the White House," Hotez said. "We'll see how they respond or if they respond."

Hotez says he thinks a national, unified response is the key to controlling COVID-19. It's how European nations are largely open, back to normal and with low levels of transmission.

"The point is to get us to a national reset at some agreed-upon low level of transmission, and then we can open schools, colleges and maybe even have the NFL," Hotez said.

He's proposing a national containment goal. Experts said it should be one new COVID-19 case per million residents per day. In Texas, that would mean no more than 29 new coronavirus cases a day.

Each state would need to agree or be required to meet the containment benchmark to safely reopen schools, colleges and businesses.

"At least put something on the table for people to respond to," Hotez said.

If those measures are met, contact tracing becomes feasible. Syndromic surveillance can keep COVID-19 from exploding and Hotez says hospitals would be ready if it did. Hotez says if we act now, a sense of normalcy could be within reach by Oct. 1.

"We have to stop and get over the magical thinking of vaccines recognize they're not coming soon and takes steps now to give Americans a better life," said Hotez.

For perspective, the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 killed more than half a million Americans in two to three years. Models project the U.S. could see 300,000 COVID-19 deaths by the end of 2020.

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