US Capitol riot underscores need to condemn violence as pandemic ravages the nation

Date: Jan 08 2021

Contact: Media Relations 

Statement from APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD

Wednesday’s egregious act of violence against our government and assault on American democracy at the U.S. Capitol was horrifying to watch and underscores the great divide that exists in this nation. And just yesterday, our country experienced the deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic, surging past 4,000 deaths for the first time.

I urge us all to get the facts, ignore disinformation and pledge to condemn violence. Violence is corrosive to the public’s health. Wednesday’s act of domestic terrorism continues the assaults we are seeing on our public officials, from health officials to elected leaders. It is a painful example of how much trust we have lost because of the lies and misstatements perpetuated by some of our leaders. This undermining of the truth has made our nation less safe, not only in our hallowed halls, but on our streets as well.

Combatting the growing distrust and deluge of misinformation that led to Wednesday’s horrific events, where many mask-less extremists increased the risk of COVID-19 spread, is the only way to end the pandemic, and mitigate the impact of the next one. We can only do this if we come together, as a nation. We must believe in science, not fallacy, and trust our experts, not our loudest dissenters. And we must speak out continually about the racism that resulted in predominantly white terrorists being treated differently than Black Lives Matter protesters.

We have a lot of work to do to rebuild confidence in our collective actions. We now need to begin restoring trust and achieving justice in the middle of a pandemic. I am inspired by the remarkable personal sacrifice happening across the country as so many people work tirelessly to lift our country out of this dark period.

We cannot allow hate to divide us at the very time we need everyone’s help in ending these dual public health crises — violence and the pandemic.


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.