‘If we under-react we’re going to count our losses in lives’: Harvard doctor urges national quarantine on Morning Joe

Given the lack of testing, Ashish Jha said we may be closer to looking like Italy than we think.

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Grabbing the attention of a national audience on Tuesday, a local doctor issued a warning: With every day that passes, the U.S. will tally more COVID-19 cases, clogging hospitals and emergency rooms, until more drastic measures are taken. 

Harvard University professor and Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute Ashish Jha appeared on Morning Joe, telling MSNBC reporters that America needs more tests, and a national quarantine. 

Sparse availability of test kits has been a major stumbling block in battling the disease in the U.S. and elsewhere.

“My sense is we’re doing about 10,000 tests a day, maybe, across the country,” Jha told reporters. 

But that number, he said, should be 150,000 tests a day instead. 

Jha’s message comes after new data from China was published in the Science journal on Monday, estimating that “86% of all infections were undocumented,” and “undocumented infections were the infection source for 79% of documented cases.”

Scientists said people with “undocumented infections often experience mild, limited or no symptoms,” causing them to go unrecognized while others face exposure. 

Jha told the station that without more testing, we may be closer to Italy’s pandemic levels than we think.


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Calling for a national two-week break would allow time for officials to strategize, test everyone who needs to be tested, and see which communities are most affected, he said. 

“We have two choices,” Jha said. “Basically we can either have a national quarantine now, two weeks, get a grip on where things are and then reassess; or we can not, wait another week and when things look really terrible be forced into it and that’s going to last much longer. Many more people will die.”


He told the station that while it would be a tough two weeks, it would be even more devastating to wait. 

“If we overreact we’re going to waste some money,” Jha said. “If we under-react we’re going to count our losses in lives and money.”

Watch Dr. Jha’s appearance here.

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