More than 600 doctors from around the country signed onto a letter Tuesday urging President Donald Trump to end lockdowns in America, describing the widespread lockdown orders as a "mass casualty incident" and warning of "exponentially growing health consequences."
In the letter obtained by Fox News, the doctors describe several of the unintended negative consequences of the shutdown orders, which include patients missing check-ups with doctors that could detect cancer and other serious conditions, an increase in alcohol and substance abuse, and financial instability leading to poverty and poor health.
"Millions of Americans are already [in critical condition]," the letter argued. "These include 150,000 Americans per month who would have had a new cancer detected through routine screening that hasn't happened, millions who have missed routine dental care to fix problems strongly linked to heart disease/death, and preventable cases of stroke, heart attack, and child abuse. Suicide hotline phone calls have increased 600%.
"We are alarmed at what appears to be the lack of consideration for the future health of our patients," the doctors added, noting real-life examples they have witnessed in their practices. "The downstream health effects ... are being massively under-estimated and under-reported. This is an order of magnitude error."
The doctors noted that since many of the resulting problems will be spread over a large area and not directly linked to confirmed cases of COVID-19, they may go unnoticed.
"The millions of casualties of a continued shutdown will be hiding in plain sight, but they will be called alcoholism, homelessness, suicide, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. In youths it will be called financial instability, unemployment, despair, drug addiction, unplanned pregnancies, poverty, and abuse," the letter stated.
Four of the undersigned doctors told Fox News they believe the indirect effects of the shutdowns outweighed the direct consequences of lifting them.
"The very initial argument ... which sounded reasonable three months ago, is that in order to limit the overwhelmed patient flux into hospitals that would prevent adequate care, we needed to spread out the infections and thus the deaths in specific locales that could become hotspots, particularly New York City ... It was a valid argument at the beginning based on the models that were given," said Dr. Mark McDonald, a psychiatrist. "What we've seen now over the last three months is that no city — none, zero — outside of New York has even been significantly stressed."
The letter comes as many states have begun to reopen in phases, but much more slowly than perhaps was initially expected. Americans in several states across the country have taken to the streets in protest of stay-at-home orders, which have kept businesses, churches, and schools closed.
Millions have been laid off or furloughed from their jobs or forced out of business since the start of the outbreak, and many are concerned that the country has shifted from flattening the curve to indefinitely locking down until a cure is found.