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As the U.S. surpasses 400,000 deaths from COVID-19, we must listen to public health

Date: Jan 19 2021

Contact: Media Relations 

Statement from APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD

Today we mourn the enormous loss of 400,000 Americans from COVID-19. In response to this grim milestone, we must reboot as a nation and heed proven public health guidance to proactively combat the continued spread of the virus.

For nearly a year, public health officials across the U.S. have worked to slow the spread in their communities by implementing thorough, science-based plans, which, if followed, could have mitigated the horrid consequences of this public health crisis. Unfortunately, many of our nation’s leaders responded sluggishly and delivered politically motivated misinformation. Silencing expert-led advice and leaving the door open to ambiguities have clearly proven fatal, have contributed to the nearly 24 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country and have hurt our nation’s identity as a world leader in public health.

However, the arrival of a new administration with an aggressive outline of federal guidance, action and transparency, offers hope of a light at the end of this treacherous tunnel. While we work to vaccinate Americans in the coming months, we must not collectively let our guard down. It is still critical that we all continue to do our part: wear a mask, practice physical distancing, wash our hands and get vaccinated when it’s available to you. Let’s work together and stay the course so can we finally bring this public health tragedy to an end.


The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.