AMA, AHA, ANA issue open letter urging Americans to wear masks to slow spread of coronavirus

July 6, 2020

The American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and American Nurses Association on Monday urged Americans to wear a mask and practice social distancing in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.


The American Medical Association (AMA), American Hospital Association (AHA), and American Nurses Association (ANA) on Monday urged Americans to wear a mask and practice social distancing in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have urged the American people to protect themselves, their neighbors and their loved ones amidst the worst global health crisis in generations,” the groups said in an open letter to Americans. “After months of physical distancing and staying at home, infections and deaths began to decline.”

The organizations noted that in the “weeks since states began reopening, some of the steps that were critical to the progress we made were too quickly abandoned.”

“And we are now watching in real-time as a dramatic uptick in COVID-19 cases is erasing our hard-won gains,” the letter continued. “Hospitals in some states are at or nearing their ICU capacity. Shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies continue to pose a dire threat to health care workers and patients alike.

Last week, Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Congress that the U.S could see 100,000 new coronavirus cases each day if more precautions are not taken to slow the spread of the virus.

“This is why as physicians, nurses, hospital and health system leaders ,researchers and public health experts, we are urging the American public to take the simple steps we know will help stop the spread of the virus: wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distancing, and washing hands,” the groups said. “We are not powerless in this public health crisis, and we can defeat it in the same way we defeated previous threats to public health—by allowing science and evidence to shape our decisions and inform our actions.”

Moreover, the organizations acknowledged the staggering toll of the pandemic, noting that it likely will take many more months, perhaps years, to truly understand its impact on the country and its way of life.

“What is certain – and what the science and evidence are telling us – is that COVID-19 is not behind us and we must resist confusing re-opening with returning to normalcy,” the letter continued. “Doing so will escalate this crisis and result in more suffering and death.”

The organizations also offered thanks to all Americans who are doing their part to help stop the spread of the virus.

“Your actions are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19,” they concluded. “Moving forward, we must all remain vigilant and continue taking steps to mitigate the spread of the virus to protect each other and our loved ones. There is only one way we will get through this – together.”

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases, such as COVID-19. Similar viruses cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), according to the World Health Organization.

As ophthalmology practices have started to see more patients, including those for elective procedures, wearing personal protective equipment has been an important part of the visit.

As the coronavirus first started to spread in the United States in March, the American Academy of Ophthalmology issued guidelines for ophthalmologists recommending protection of the mouth, nose, and eyes when caring for patients potentially infected with the virus. AAO guidelines recommend personal protective equipment, including gloves, gowns, respiratory protection (N-95 masks, slit-lamp breath shields), and eye protection (goggles).

According to the Coronavirus Resource Center of Johns Hopkins University, the United States had more than 2,888,000 confirmed cases as of Monday, passing another grim milestone as deaths topped 130,000, for a case-fatality rate of 4.5%.

Johns Hopkins also reported more than 49,000 new cases on Sunday, topping the 45,000 reported on Saturday. Nearly half of those cases (45%) came from California and Florida.