COVID-19 – Open letter from U.S. public health leaders

An open letter from public health leaders around the nation:

BCHC, April 3, 2020

Dear Fellow Residents,

As public health leaders of the largest cities and counties in this country, it is our mission and duty to assure transparency during this time of great uncertainty.

Our country has not faced a public health threat like COVID-19 in over 100 years. With worldwide daily increases in both confirmed cases and deaths, it is clear to us as public health experts that this pandemic is gaining momentum and not soon subsiding. If we do not act quickly and collaboratively, many more lives will be lost across our country.

It does no one any good to soften the reality of what we are confronting. We must all prepare ourselves for loss—of normal routines and services, of economic security, and, tragically, of many, many lives. The only question now is how great the losses will be—an outcome that depends on our shared commitment to take individual responsibility and civic accountability for adhering to preventative measures, and, above all else, to stay home.

To save lives, we urgently need to slow the spread of the virus now. Many of our cities have put measures in place to sharply limit the spread of COVID-19. But no matter the extent of these measures, and even if you feel fine, we again implore you: Just Stay Home!

We know there are certain people, essential workers, who must work, and we thank them for their dedication. Your staying home helps keep them as safe as possible.

Staying home will protect both you and everyone you would otherwise come in contact with. If everyone stays home as much as possible, we will limit the spread of the virus, we will greatly reduce the number of people getting sick, and we will save many lives.

It is also critical to follow other recommended and mandatory measures to ease the burden on our health care system. If too many people rush to our emergency rooms for non-emergency care, our system will buckle under the weight of the demand.

Stay home for yourselves. Stay home for your family and loved ones. Stay home for your friends. Stay home for your community. Stay home for the health and prosperity of your country.

We understand that what we are asking of you is not easy. We know that for many of you, sounding this alarm may cause fear and anxiety. But, we must.

While we ask you to stay apart physically, we implore you to come together emotionally and spiritually. Together we are the best defense against this pandemic.

In gratitude,

Oxiris Barbot, MD
New York City
Sara Cody, MD
County of Santa Clara
Wilma Wooten, MD, MPH
San Diego County
Mysheika Roberts, MD, MPH
Tomas Aragon, MD, DrPH
City and County of San Francisco
Dawn Emerick EdD, MPA
San Antonio Metro Health District
Patty Hayes, RN, MN
Seattle-King County
Rita Nieves, RN, MPH, LICSW
Rex Archer, MD, MPH
Kansas City
Denise Fair, MPH, FACHE
Stephanie Hayden, LMSW
Vinny Taneja, MBBS, MPH
Tarrant County
Allison Arwady, MD, MPH
Tom Farley, MD, MPH
Phil Huang, MD, MPH
Dallas County
Stephen Williams, MEd, MPA
Rachael Banks, MPH
Multnomah County
Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MA
Los Angeles County
Fermin Leguen, MD
Southern Nevada Health District
Kimi Watkins-Tartt
Alameda County
Virginia Caine, MD
Marion County
Marcy Flanagan, DBA, MPH, MA
Maricopa County
Bob McDonald
Kelly Colopy, MPP
Long Beach
Merle Gordon, MPA
Gretchen Musicant, MPH, BSN
Letitia Dzirasa, MD
Baltimore City
Gibbie Harris, MSPH, BSN, RN
Mecklenburg County
LaQuandra Nesbitt, MD, MPH
Washington, D.C.