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PSR Statement to Supporters and the Public

Slow the Spread. Stay at Home.

03/25/2020

We wanted to share with you this important statement issued today by the Board of Directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility:

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) strongly supports the call made yesterday in The New York Times by J. Larry Jameson, the dean of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, writing for himself and on behalf of six other leaders of large academic health systems in some of the locations hardest hit by COVID-19, urging our national leadership to keep in place the social restrictions needed to subdue this outbreak.

We urge our members, colleagues, and allied organizations to continue to support the social distancing measures recommended by public health authorities, and we urge local, state, and national leaders to do the same. Many PSR members and supporters are on the frontlines of health care and public health. They are seeing the daily toll. While we recognize the economic ramifications and significant challenges that social distancing poses for many people in our society, it is the only way to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. If we let that happen, many more lives will be lost as a consequence.

Alan S. Greenglass, MD, President
Jeff Carter, Executive Director

We encourage PSR members and chapters to share this statement widely and to urge your state and local leaders to resist pressure to lift social restrictions until we have substantially contained the virus—through your local media, online, or by contacting your elected officials.

For more information on PSR’s response to COVID-19: www.psr.org/covid


Action Alert

Congress Must Not Undermine Our Future in Pandemic Stimulus Package

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COVID-19 update

03/19/2020

From all of us here at PSR, we hope this message finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe. I know that many of you reading this message are doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers, and that many of you are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, working tirelessly to fight the spread of the disease, and perhaps putting your own health at risk to protect others. Thank you for all that you do.

I want to update you on PSR’s plans as we continue to navigate through this crisis.

As you know, last week we temporarily closed our national office and arranged for all staff to work remotely. Our work has continued without significant disruption. If anything, the national staff is working harder than ever—not only to keep our current projects moving forward, but also to ensure that the policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t derail our collective efforts to build the healthier, safer, and more equitable society we have all been working toward for so long.

To that end, I wanted you to know that we are closely monitoring the COVID-19 stimulus packages under discussion in Congress, and working with our national partners to insist that both immediate relief and long-term recovery provide for a genuinely healthier and more equitable future for everyone. The social and economic disparities that were in place long before COVID-19 are at risk of intensifying if we go about this the wrong way.

For example, just this week:

  • After learning that support for the oil and gas industry could become part of the federal response to the coronavirus, PSR joined with other environmental organizations to demand that any planned economic stimulus efforts exclude new giveaways to polluters.
  • We also joined with our allies to demand that any federal assistance to the aviation industry be conditioned on the industry agreeing to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of our climate, impacted workers, and affected communities.
  • In addition, we signed on to a national letter calling on governors, mayors, and utility regulators and boards to institute a moratorium on all electricity and water service shut-offs in light of the coronavirus emergency, and to implement policies encouraging distributed clean energy systems and sustainable water payment programs to address the deeper systemic energy injustice issues driving shut-offs.

We’ll keep you posted on opportunities to engage in similar efforts in the weeks ahead.

This is going to be a pivotal moment for PSR and our country. The choices being made right now will shape our society for years to come. I’m looking forward to talking with chapter leaders, our national board, and our members about the road ahead. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any advice or suggestions you may have.

For me personally, what is especially disorienting about the COVID-19 pandemic is that normally, in times of crisis, most of us look to strengthen our community connections, but in this case, we are required to physically distance ourselves from each other. How are you drawing on community support in this context? I’d love to hear from you.

On our end, we are going to work on new ways to leverage the passion, energy, and expertise of PSR experts and activists during this crisis. For example, with many people staying in their homes right now to protect both their personal and public health, we’ll be looking to build up our digital outreach and content.

But we can’t do this without your continued engagement and financial support. I know that many of you reading this are facing economic challenges stemming from the disruption caused by COVID-19—but if you are in a position today to contribute financially to PSR, we could really use your help, more than ever.

Please visit psr.org/covid to engage, stay informed, and to contribute to our critical cause.

Sending you courage and best wishes,

Jeff Carter
Executive Director


PSR and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

At PSR, we take the “social responsibility” part of our name seriously, and that means doing our part to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community in which PSR’s national office is based, Washington, DC. Public health experts’ understanding of the situation is evolving rapidly, but it is widely agreed that the spread of the disease poses a substantial threat to every community, and that healthcare systems may become quickly overwhelmed. It is also widely agreed that there is one measure we can all take that has been effective in slowing that spread: social distancing. Responsibility for social distancing falls on decision makers at every level of society, and that includes employers.

Therefore PSR National is instituting the following policies, starting today:

  • PSR staff will be temporarily required to telework until further notice. We are working with our staff to ensure that everyone is set up to work at home effectively. We do not anticipate any significant disruption or delays in our everyday work.
  • Until further notice, PSR staff will not be convening or attending in-person meetings, conferences, or other activities that require travel or involve being in close physical contact with others. If feasible, we will participate in our own previously scheduled meetings over the phone or through video conferencing. Other meetings will be postponed.

We will continue to assess the situation, track recommendations and best practices from public health agencies, and update our policies accordingly.

We strongly urge other employers to consider similar social distancing policies, such as canceling large gatherings, and restricting most forms of nonessential travel. And we encourage everyone to follow the advice of public health experts: wash hands regularly and thoroughly, refrain from shaking hands, and do not go out in public if you have a fever or cough. If you are feeling ill, contact your healthcare provider. If you have additional questions or concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, please check the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), or contact your local health department.

Should you have any questions about how this may impact upcoming PSR work, please contact us at psrnatl@psr.org.

Be safe,

Jeff Carter
Executive Director


PSR Chapter Statements & Resources

Greater Boston PSR
PSR-Los Angeles
Oregon PSR
PSR Philadelphia
Washington PSR
PSR Wisconsin


Other Resources

Coronavirus Report newsletter from Chicago PSR’s Dr. Sarah Lovinger
Telemedicine Course from ACP, co-authored by PSR Florida’s Dr. Ankush Bansal


Public Health Agency & University Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
World Health Organization: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center