1. Statement

Keep Calm, Be Compassionate as Coronavirus Spreads

By Diane Randall, March 3, 2020


As coronavirus continues to spread to new countries and new communities, our hearts go out to all those affected by this devastating illness.

As humans, we are one species, interconnected and subject to forces that are not always in our control—including viruses. The unknown dimensions of coronavirus (COVID-19) may alter our daily lives and harm those we care about, a situation that leads to worry and anxiety.

We demonstrate compassion and integrity when we don’t blame victims or perpetuate fear of people based on nationality or ethnicity.

We must remain calm and, above all, be compassionate. We demonstrate compassion and integrity when we don’t blame victims or perpetuate fear of people based on nationality or ethnicity. Epidemics have far-reaching effects on societies and their economies, and it is likely that every country and every person on the globe will be touched in some way by the effects of coronavirus.

It is also important to de-politicize the response to the threat of COVID-19, to be forthright with the American people, and set a standard for global leadership. The White House and Vice President Mike Pence, who has been charged with leading our country’s response, must ensure that people have accurate, clear information about the spread of coronavirus and the appropriate precautions.

Peoples’ lives and well-being are at stake. Political leadership is essential.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation is attentive to this evolving situation abroad, in the U.S. and here on Capitol Hill. This week, Congress is considering a funding package of $7 billion to $8 billion for the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, and state and local health departments where the outbreaks have occurred.

These funds would support education, preparation, prevention, testing, and treatment, as well as the development of a vaccine and emergency reserves to help poor countries respond to an outbreak.

We are also concerned about economic sanctions in Iran and elsewhere that may hamper the ability to provide food, medical supplies and lifesaving assistance. Although the Trump administration has acted to ease Iranian sanctions slightly, significant hurdles remain to be addressed in order to enable an effective humanitarian response.

We ask our lawmakers to make decisions affecting the security, health, and well-being of human beings, knowing that the public policy choices affect the opportunities for people throughout this country and the world.

The uncertain nature of this epidemic and the lack of absolute measures to prevent the spread of the virus requires us to keep calm and exercise care and compassion. We hold in the Light the health care professionals who are called on to treat and care for those who need their support.

Diane Randall

  • General Secretary

Diane Randall is the General Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Diane leads FCNL’s staff to effectively educate and lobby for the policies and legislative priorities established by FCNL’s General Committee. A lifelong advocate for peace and social justice, Diane is a fierce proponent for citizen engagement that advances policies and practices to create a better society for all.