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Dear Secretary Azar:

We, the undersigned organizations, are committed to working with you, the Administration and Congress to meet the continued needs of the American public as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Together we represent millions of individuals working to address the unprecedented challenges the pandemic has presented to our society, our healthcare system, and our economy.

As such, we are writing to urge you to renew the current public health emergency (PHE) declaration for at least an additional 90 days before it expires on July 25. It is imperative that the federal government continue to deploy all resources and authorities necessary to protect the public and assist states and localities as they continue to respond to this urgent situation. As of the date of this letter, many states and localities are still experiencing dramatic increases in SARS-CoV-2 infections and hospitalizations due to COVID-19. At the same time, these areas are preparing for seasonal threats such as hurricanes, wildfires, influenza and more. We cannot afford to ease up on our response to this grave threat.

Furthermore, maintaining the PHE status is required if we are to increase the pace of research on SARSCoV-2, accelerate development of medical countermeasures, streamline efforts to bring novel diagnostics, vaccine candidates and therapeutic options to market, and ensure that the public has access to health care and other social services.

In addition to the fact that it helps guard against complacency from the public while the threat of COVID-19 to the country remains high, an active PHE declaration has practical implications beyond the perception of the pandemic. A PHE is necessary to do the following:

  • Facilitate coordination and collaboration across and amongst federal agencies and with state and local authorities, including providing flexibility for state, territorial and local health departments to reassign federally-funded personnel to assist with response;
  • Facilitate the approval of new diagnostic tools to further expand testing in both symptomatic and asymptomatic populations, which is critical to a full reopening of society;
  • Facilitate the approval of novel and repurposed medical countermeasures such as vaccines and antiviral drugs;
  • Review and assure successful implementation of the July-December Jurisdictional Testing Plans, which are now due on July 10, 2020.
  • Support those local and state public health officials who, in performing their legally-mandated duties to keep the public healthy and safe, have recently had their careers and safety threatened.
  • Protect the most vulnerable in our communities by strengthening prevention efforts, maintaining increased access to telehealth, increasing access to testing, assuring quality health care services, and addressing excess death rates in communities of color, among older adults, and those with serious conditions.

We urge you to extend the public health emergency declaration before its expiration later this month. We look forward to continuing our collaborative work with you to move our nation through and beyond this pandemic. Questions may be directed to Allen Segal, the American Society for Microbiology’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, at asegal@asmusa.org.

Sincerely,

African American Health Alliance

AIDS United

American Association for Clinical Chemistry

American Association for Respiratory Care

American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases

American Association of Bioanalysts

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

American Association on Health and Disability

American Clinical Laboratory Association

American Clinical Neurophysiology Society

American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP)

American College of Preventive Medicine

American Dental Hygienists' Association

American Lung Association

American Medical Technologists

American Optometric Association

American Osteopathic Association

American Public Health Association

American Society for Clinical Pathology

American Society for Investigative Pathology

American Society for Microbiology

American Society for Reproductive Medicine

American Society for Virology

American Society of Hematology

American Society of Nephrology

American Society of Pediatric Nephrology

American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Association for Molecular Pathology

Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology

Association of American Cancer Institutes

Association of American Medical Colleges

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

Association of Black Cardiologists

Association of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs

Association of Minority Health Professions Schools

Association of Public Health Laboratories

Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions

Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

Beckman Coulter

Big Cities Health Coalition

BioFire Diagnostics, LLC

Ceres Community Project

Children's Environmental Health Network

College of American Pathologists

Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists

CUGH

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Endocrine Society

Epilepsy Alliance America

Epilepsy Foundation

GenMark Diagnostics

Health Leadership Legacy Project

Hepatitis B Foundation

HIV Medicine Association

Infectious Diseases Society of America

International Safety Equipment Association

Lakeshore Foundation

Luminex Corporation

Multipurpose Senior Services Program

National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities

National Association of County and City Health Officials

National Association of School Nurses

National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials

National Athletic Trainers' Association

National Black Nurses Association

National Independent Laboratory Association

National Safety Council

North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

Prevent Blindness

Prevention Institute

Quantitative Health

Research!America

Safe States Alliance

Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Society for Women's Health Research

Society of General Internal Medicine

Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists

STChealth LLC

Tennessee Justice Center

The Family Resource Network

The Foundation for Sustainable Communities

The Gerontological Society of America

Trust for America’s Health

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Washington State Department of Health

Youth Villages