American Thoracic Society Releases Statement in Response to COVID-19

Imagine showing human lungs highlighting the bronchi
Human lungs, computer illustration.
The leadership of American Thoracic Society recently released a statement, as well as 2 fact sheets, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The leadership of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) recently released a statement, as well as 2 fact sheets, in response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has now been declared a pandemic.1,2,3

In an email statement, the ATS leadership wrote that COVID-19 has been a major source of concern for members of the pulmonary and critical care community. They encouraged sharing the 2 fact sheets among both healthcare providers and patients and promised to promote more resources as they became available.1

The 2 fact sheets include Coronavirus — Public Health Resource for Clinicians and Coronavirus — Patient Information Resource for General Public.2,3

For patients and the general public, the ATS included information on symptoms, preventive measures, treatment, and when to seek medical help. They stressed the importance of hand washing for at least 20 seconds, using alcohol-based sanitizers (≥60% alcohol) when soap and water are not available, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched items and surfaces with a regular household cleaner or wipes, staying home when sick, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

In addition, the ATS recommended seeking medical attention if an individual believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 and have symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath. They noted that some doctors’ offices or emergency departments may advise calling ahead so that healthcare providers can be prepared for patient arrival and help prevent the potential spread of the virus to others.

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Meanwhile, for clinicians, the ATS included criteria from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for evaluating patients with suspected COVID-19, clinical presentation, preventive measures, and methods for reporting, testing, and specimen collection. At this time, no antiviral treatment is recommended for COVID-19; however, symptomatic and supportive care are recommended, along with respiratory and contact isolation for individuals who are infected.

The ATS has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak in other forms of media. Out of the Blue, a podcast hosted by the ATS journal, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, released an episode on Thursday, March 12, 2020, focusing on COVID-19. The ATS Twitter account also held a live chat and has made the archive available online: Part I and Part II.

At this time, the ATS plans to hold the international conference, scheduled to take place in May 2020, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


1. COVID-19: The ATS Response [press release]. New York, New York; American Thoracic Society. Published March 10, 2020. Accessed March 13, 2020.

2. American Thoracic Society. What is COVID-19? (formerly “the novel 2019-nCoV coronavirus). Updated March 2020. Accessed March 13, 2020.

3. American Thoracic Society. COVID-19 disease due to SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus). Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2020;201:7-8.