The American Public Health Association (APHA) says preparing communities in the U.S. for COVID-19 – the illness caused by coronavirus – is going to reuire a coordinated national response, with leadership from the top levels of government. “Attempts to silence public health officials — or manipulate public information — will only make it harder to get ahead and stay ahead of this virus,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD.

“There’s a science to effective outbreak response, and this must include full and open participation from our most trustworthy messengers — scientists, public health professionals and medical officials. During an outbreak, it’s our duty to instill public confidence, lessen unnecessary panic and fear, and give people the timely and accurate information they need to protect themselves and their loved ones. This is not a time for politics.

“In the face of a disease we are still learning about, it would be highly reckless to allow political interference in the delivery of science-based health information to the public. Such a move would only sow confusion and distrust, making it more difficult for the public health professionals working to control the virus.

“The world is on the verge of a global pandemic, and public trust in government health leaders will be key to mitigating its harm. We must reject any attempt to prioritize politics over the public’s health.”