(New York, NY) – In response to reports of a Washington state doctor losing his job after criticizing his hospital’s coronavirus response and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis excluding a journalist from a press conference after she raised concerns over social distancing, PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said the following:

“In recent days, we have read disturbing reports of officials punishing professionals who question the official line on the COVID-19 crisis. This pandemic is bad enough without being compounded by a resort to punitive tactics aimed to suppress vital information. China’s early targeting of doctors and journalists for sounding an alarm on the pandemic muzzled their voices and led to deadly delays in responding to the outbreak. Even as it falls behind the world in controlling infection rates, the U.S. must not succumb to the virus of information suppression. Doctors and journalists need to be able to speak the truth without fear of reprisal, and the public has a right to hear what they have to say. Shame on those officials who resort to authoritarian, anti-American retaliation against speech; the citizens to whom you are accountable deserve far better.”


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Stephen Fee, Director of Communications, [email protected], +1 202 309 8892