In September the Trump Administration released an “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping,” which would allow federal agencies to terminate contracts intended to help promote study and understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion across government institutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the need to confront the impact of racism on individual and public health. Ignoring our nation's inequities, as this executive order would require, is not an option. The Infectious Diseases Society of America, its HIV Medicine Association, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists call on the administration to immediately rescind this order.

As adult and pediatric infectious diseases and HIV physicians, researchers, pharmacists, public health professionals and other health providers on the front lines of this pandemic and other public health threats, we see the consequences every day of systemic obstacles that, originating in discriminatory structures, perpetuate disparate opportunities for health and health services.

The chilling effect of this order is now being realized. Talks by medical and scientific experts as well as other programming intended to inform equitable responses to the current pandemic are being cancelled. Not only does this order directly limit our ability to appropriately respond to the current pandemic, it also obstructs our ability to understand and address related and future disparity issues that hobble our health systems.

Censoring research and silencing discussion on the impacts of racism, sexism and stigma on safety, health and well-being stymies progress at a time when progress is desperately needed.

In this tumultuous and tragic year, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world that sharing information is essential to confronting, containing and combating our greatest health and societal challenges.