IDSA President Thomas M. File, Jr., M.D., FIDSA, MSc
March 24, 2020
IDSA/HIVMA Statement on Potential Lifting of Social Distancing Guidelines
As infectious diseases and HIV specialists and other health workers confronting the mounting challenges of COVID-19 without a vaccine, proven treatment and adequate diagnostic tools, we are troubled by President Trump’s suggestions that restrictions on gathering and travel may be lifted soon, or before an arbitrary date. Easing social distancing measures while significant COVID-19 transmission continues will lead to faster spread of disease, overwhelm health care settings that continue to lack essential equipment, and result in deaths that could have been prevented.
Statewide efforts alone will not be sufficient to control this public health crisis. A strong nationwide plan that supports and enforces social distancing — and recognizes that our health and our economy are inextricably linked — should remain in place until public health and medical experts indicate it can safely be lifted.
America’s infectious disease experts continue to call for the support of workers, small businesses, children and others who will require economic assistance, nutritional support, and educational resources. We urge President Trump to maintain and strengthen the public health tools at our disposal as long as they are needed to protect Americans’ health and lives.
The President should only set a date for lifting nationwide social distancing restrictions when the medical evidence indicates that it is safe. Lifting restrictions sooner will gravely jeopardize the health of all Americans and extend the economic impacts of the pandemic.