Public Health

AMA to governors: Stay-at-home orders help limit COVID-19 spread

Andis Robeznieks , Senior News Writer

What’s the news: The AMA is urging all 50 of the nation’s governors to support statewide, emergency orders to close non-essential businesses, limit non-essential activities and prohibit gatherings during this critical stage of the COVID-19 response.

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“Physical distancing is the only effective mechanism to slow the exponential spread of the virus and decrease the anticipated spike in COVID-19 cases across all states,” AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, wrote in a letter to the National Governors Association. “It is vital that states keep residents at home to avoid overwhelming our health care systems and depleting the equipment, resources and manpower needed to care for the influx of critically ill patients.”

Physicians are honored to serve on the front line of the pandemic protecting patients and communities, Dr. Madara adds, but they need the help of policymakers as they take on this immense challenge.

His letter builds on the message of an open letter to the American people sent jointly by the AMA, American Hospital Association and American Nurses Association last month.

“Physicians, nurses and health care workers are staying at work for you,” the three organizations said in that letter. “Please stay at home for us.”

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Why it’s important: Most governors have already issued stay-at-home or “shelter-in-place” orders, but others have yet to do so—which can create problems as the virus doesn’t stop at state lines.

“A uniform response to the pandemic across all states is critical and stay-at-home orders are a necessary defense to turn the tide against COVID-19,” Dr. Madara wrote. “We strongly urge all states to issue stay-at-home orders to residents if they have not done so already. These directives will save lives.”

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Learn more: Physicians can stay up to date on the AMA’s COVID-19 advocacy efforts and track the fast-moving pandemic with the AMA's COVID-19 resource center, which offers a library of the most current resources from JAMA Network™, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.