Home Guidelines & Resources Guidelines and Statements

COVID-19: Guidelines and Statements


Joint Statement on Importance of Wearing Facial Coverings

American College of Chest Physicians, American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society, and COPD Foundation
July 17, 2020

CHEST has joined with the American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society, and COPD Foundation to release a statement on the importance of patients with chronic lung disease wearing facial coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Key points of the statement include:

  • The role of the facial coverings as a component of mitigation, along with social distancing, to decrease the spread of COVID-19 is a public health priority.
  • The general public should avoid using N95 masks so as to not deplete this resource for frontline workers.
  • Though face masks and face shields should not be viewed interchangeably, available data suggest face shields can reduce the amount of inhalation exposure to another droplet-spread respiratory virus, namely influenza.
  • Individuals with normal lungs and even many individuals with underlying chronic lung disease should be able to wear a non-N95 facial covering without affecting their oxygen or carbon dioxide levels.

Additional Resources

National Institutes of Health COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines
These evolving guidelines from NIH provide recommendations based on scientific evidence and expert opinion as determined by a panel of representatives from federal agencies, health care and academic organizations, and professional societies, including CHEST members Steven Q. Simpson, MD, FCCP; Mitchell M. Levy, MD; and Gregory S. Martin, MD, MSc, FCCP.

Use of Tracheostomy During the COVID-19 Pandemic: CHEST/AABIP/AIPPD: Expert Panel Report

American College of Chest Physicians
June 5, 2020

This expert panel report examines the current evidence for performing tracheostomy in patients with respiratory failure from COVID-19 and provides recommendations to guide health-care providers, including the following:

  • Either open surgical tracheostomy or percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy can be performed in COVID-19 patients when prolonged mechanical ventilation is anticipated.
  • Tracheostomy should be performed in a negative-pressure room, preferably in the ICU, by a team consisting of the least number of providers with the highest level of experience wearing enhanced personal protective equipment.
  • There is insufficient evidence for recommending specific timing for tracheostomy in COVID-19-related respiratory failure.
  • Routine RT-PCR testing (nasopharyngeal swab or lower respiratory sample) prior to performing tracheostomy in patients with confirmed COVID-19-related respiratory failure is not recommended.
  • Patients should be maintained with a closed circuit while on mechanical ventilation with a tracheostomy tube and with inline suction.

Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of venous thromboembolism in patients with COVID-19: CHEST Guideline and Expert Panel Report

American College of Chest Physicians
June 2, 2020

Emerging evidence shows that severe COVID-19 can be complicated by significant coagulopathy that likely manifests in the form of both microthrombosis and venous thromboembolism (VTE). This expert panel report provides practical guidance regarding the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of VTE.

    COVID-19 Updates to CHEST anticoagulation guidelines
  • In the absence of contraindication, all acutely hospitalized patients with COVID-19 should receive thromboprophylaxis therapy.
  • Low-molecular-weight heparin or fondaparinux should be used for thromboprophylaxis over unfractionated heparin and direct oral anticoagulants.
  • There are insufficient data to justify routine increased intensity anticoagulant dosing in hospitalized or critically ill COVID-19 patients.
  • Recommend only inpatient thromboprophylaxis for COVID-19 patients.
  • In critically ill COVID-19 patients, suggest against routine ultrasound screening for the detection of asymptomatic deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
  • For critically ill COVID-19 patients with proximal DVT or pulmonary embolism, recommend parenteral anticoagulation therapy with therapeutic weight adjusted low-molecular-weight heparin or fondaparinux over unfractionated heparin.

The Use of Bronchoscopy During the COVID-19 Pandemic: CHEST/AABIP Guideline and Expert Panel Report

American College of CHEST Physicians
May 1, 2020

Recommendations are pertinent to the performance of bronchoscopy in patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The panel suggests that:

  • Health-care workers in the procedure and recovery rooms should use either an N95 respirator or a powered air purifying respirator in addition to face shield, gown, and gloves. N95 respirators should be worn when performing bronchoscopy in asymptomatic patients from an area where community spread of COVID-19 is present.
  • In the setting of severe or progressive disease requiring endotracheal intubation, endotracheal aspirates or bronchoscopy with BAL can be performed if the nasopharyngeal swab is negative and additional specimen is needed to rule in COVID-19 or for confirming other diagnoses that will change management.
  • Testing for COVID-19 should be performed prior to performing bronchoscopy in asymptomatic patients from an area where community spread of COVID-19 is present. Enhanced personal protective equipment should be used even if the testing results are negative. Nonemergent bronchoscopies should be postponed if patients test positive.
  • Bronchoscopy should be performed in a timely and safe manner when it’s indicated to diagnose, stage, or characterize a known or suspected lung cancer in an area where community transmission of COVID-19 is present.
  • In patients who recovered from COVID-19 and need a bronchoscopy, the timing of the procedure should be determined based on the indication for the procedure, the severity of the COVID-19 infection, and time from symptom resolution. Waiting at least 30 days from resolution of symptoms with two negative nasopharyngeal swab SARS-CoV-2 RNA tests collected at least 24 hours apart was considered reasonable.

Management of Lung Nodules and Lung Cancer Screening During the COVID-19 Pandemic: CHEST Expert Panel Report

American College of CHEST Physicians
April 23, 2020

These guidelines address the management of patients in lung cancer screening programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The expert panel report makes recommendations that seek to minimize risk to patients while balancing the potential benefits of a lung cancer screening program.

  • The initiation of lung cancer screening for individual patients should be delayed.
  • Annual screening for patients already enrolled in a lung cancer screening program with Lung-RADS 1-2 on prior CT who are due for follow-up imaging can have their surveillance CT scan delayed.
  • Annual screening for patients with previously identified pulmonary nodules who have low probability of cancer or indolent cancer, due for follow-up imaging, can have their surveillance CT scan delayed for 3-6 months (Lung-RADS 3-4 with a low estimated probability of malignancy).
  • In a patient with a Lung-RADS 4 nodule with an estimated probability of malignancy that is 65-85%, it is acceptable to perform a PET scan and/or nonsurgical biopsy to ensure there is a need to proceed to treatment.
  • In a patient with a Lung-RADS 4 nodule with an estimated probability of malignancy > 85%, it is acceptable to avoid further diagnostic testing and proceed to surgical resection or stereotactic radiotherapy.
  • Treatment of clinical stage I non-small cell lung cancer may be delayed.

Triage of Scarce Critical Care Resources in COVID-19: An Implementation Guide for Regional Allocation: An Expert Panel Report of the Task Force for Mass Critical Care and the American College of Chest Physicians

American College of CHEST Physicians
April 11, 2020

  • There is high likelihood that the number of critically ill patients will overwhelm hospital systems during the COVID-19 epidemic.
  • When a regional health system is no longer able to care for an overwhelming number of critically ill patients, a triage plan is necessary to ensure the greatest benefit to the greatest number, and to reduce the number of patients who will be unable to receive critical care resources.
  • Triage systems should apply to all critically ill patients during pandemics, not solely to those afflicted by COVID-19.
  • Triage decisions should be made by a dedicated triage team, distinct from the primary team providing bedside care.
  • Patients who are not allocated critical care resources due to triage must still receive the best possible supportive care, including palliative care if appropriate. All patients must be provided care.

Infectious Diseases Society of America Guidelines on the Treatment and Management of Patients with COVID-19

Infectious Diseases Society of America
April 11, 2020

  • For patients admitted with COVID-19, the IDSA recommends the following in the context of a clinical trial: hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine, azithromycin, lopinavir/ritonavir, tocilizumab, and convalescent plasma.
  • For patients admitted with COVID-19 pneumonia, corticosteroids are not suggested for use.
  • For patients admitted with ARDS due to COVID-19, corticosteroids are recommended in the context of a clinical trial.

The Role of Chest Imaging in Patient Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Multinational Consensus Statement from the Fleischner Society

Fleischner Society
April 7, 2020

This guideline addresses the role of CXR and chest CT in managing adults with COVID-19 across a breadth of health-care environments. The choice of imaging modality (CXR vs CT) is left to the judgment of clinicians accounting for the differing attributes of CXR and CT, local resources, and expertise.

  • Imaging is indicated in the following circumstances: 1) for patients with moderate to severe features of COVID-19 (eg, hypoxemia, moderate-to-severe dyspnea) regardless of COVID-19 test results; and 2) for patients with COVID-19 and evidence of worsening respiratory status.
  • In a resource-constrained environment where access to CT is limited, CXR may be preferred for patients with COVID-19 unless features of respiratory worsening warrant the use of CT.
  • Imaging is not indicated in the following circumstances: 1) as a screening test for COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals; and 2) for patients with mild features of COVID-19 (eg, absence of hypoxemia, no or mild dyspnea) unless they are at risk for disease progression (age >65 years, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension, and cancer).
  • Daily chest radiographs are not indicated in stable, intubated patients with COVID-19.
  • CT scan is indicated in a patient who has functional impairment and/or hypoxemia after recovery from COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 testing is indicated in a patient who is found incidentally to have findings suggestive of COVID-19 on a CT scan.

COVID-19: Interim Guidance on Management Pending Empirical Evidence 

American Thoracic Society
April 6, 2020

Consensus-based suggestions were made in favor of the following interventions:

  • Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for use in hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection who have evidence of pneumonia, following protocols and employing shared decision-making with discussion of risks and benefits that enable informed patient consent;
  • Prone ventilation for refractory hypoxemia with use of adequate PPE; and
  • ECMO if prone ventilation fails.

No suggestions for or against therapy in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and pneumonia were offered for the following pharmacotherapies, which are largely in early phases of investigation.

  • Remdesivir is presently under study.
  • Lopinavir-ritonavir combination has completed trial with negative results.
  • Tocilizumab should be studied in a randomized controlled trial.
  • Systemic corticosteroid usage has garnered an array of opinion (see discussion in full document).

Surviving Sepsis Campaign: Guidelines on the Management of Critically Ill Adults with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Society of Critical Care Medicine and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine
March 27, 2020

Surviving Sepsis Campaign COVID-19 Guideline StatementSurviving Sepsis infographic

  • Aerosol-generating procedures should be performed in a negative pressure room, and health-care workers are recommended to wear fitted respirator masks. For all other care, regular masks are adequate.
  • Resuscitation in patients with COVID-19 should preferably be done with balanced crystalloids using a conservative fluid strategy similar to ARDS. Empiric antimicrobials are recommended.
  • Norepinephrine should be the first-line agent, with the addition of vasopressin for refractory hypotension and dobutamine if there is persistent shock with evidence of cardiac dysfunction despite fluids and vasopressors.
  • Supplemental oxygen should target Spo2 between 92% and 96%. HFNC can be considered over NIPPV. The risk of potential transmission with NIPPV to health-care workers is unknown. Early intubation should be considered.
  • Customary ARDS care should be provided to mechanically ventilated patients with COVID-19, including low TV (4-8 mL/kg of predicted body weight), Pplat <30 cm H20, high PEEP strategy, prone positioning, neuromuscular blockade, etc.

Joint Statement on Multiple Patients per Ventilator 

American College of Chest Physicians, Society of Critical Care Medicine, American Association for Respiratory Care, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, and American College of Chest Physicians
March 26, 2020
With current equipment designed for a single patient, medical societies recommend that clinicians do not attempt to ventilate more than one patient with a single ventilator while any clinically proven, safe, and reliable therapy remains available (ie, in a dire, temporary emergency).

Joint Statement of the Critical Care Societies Collaborative to the US Congress and Trump Administration on Social Distancing

American College of Chest Physicians, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, American Thoracic Society, and Society for Critical Care Medicine
March 25, 2020
For the protection of patients and health-care providers, medical societies urge the US federal, state, and local governments to maintain and strengthen social distancing requirements.

Recommendations on the Care of Hospitalized Patients With COVID-19 and Kidney Failure Requiring Renal Replacement Therapy (RRT) 

American Society of Nephrology
March 21, 2020

  • The exact incidence of acute kidney injury (AKI) in patients with COVID-19 is unclear.
  • Each institution should use its established RRT practices and equipment to manage COVID-19 patients with AKI or end-stage renal disease. Hasty institution of new procedures or methods outside of a center’s expertise will likely increase errors that may affect patient safety.
  • Nephrologists, dialysis staff, and ICU staff will follow the CDC-recommended guidelines for personal protective equipment and safety in the care of these patients.
  • Guidance regarding RRT-machine disinfection AND approved disinfection cleaning products for COVID-19 can be found at the CDC and EPA (List N) websites.

Statement on the Use of Bronchoscopy and Respiratory Specimen Collection in Patients with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Infection 

American Association for Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology
March 19, 2020

  • Bronchoscopy is contraindicated in patients with suspected and confirmed COVID19 infections.
  • Because it is an aerosol-generating procedure that poses substantial risk to patients and staff, bronchoscopy should have an extremely limited role in diagnosis of COVID-19 and only be considered in intubated patients if upper respiratory samples are negative and other diagnosis is considered that would significantly change clinical management.
  • Postponement of all non-urgent bronchoscopy procedures is recommended through May 2020.

Guidance Document for the Intensive Care Management of the Adult Patient with Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 

Intensive Care Society of Ireland
March 18, 2020
This document provides supplementary guidance to that offered by the World Health Organization and highlights transmission facts, infection control measures, use of personal protective equipment, point-of-care testing, management of hypoxic respiratory failure, intubation, and patient transfer.

Care of the Critically Ill and Injured During Pandemics and Disasters (October 2014)

CHEST—Natural disasters, industrial accidents, terrorist attacks, and pandemics all have the capacity to result in large numbers of critically ill or injured patients. This 12-chapter CHEST consensus statement provides suggestions for all of those involved in a disaster or pandemic with multiple critically ill patients, including front-line clinicians, hospital administrators, professional societies, and public health or government officials.

Planning for Care During Pandemics and Disasters

Duration: 43 min
Moderator: D. Kyle Hogarth, MD, FCCP, Podcast Editor, CHEST
Participants: Michael D. Christian, MD, FRCPC, FCCP; Niranjan Kissoon, MBBS, FRCPC; Christian E. Sandrock, MD, MPH, FCCP

Recommendations from CHEST Journal Articles

Surge Capacity Principles

Surge Capacity Logistics

Evacuation of the ICU


Special Populations

System-Level Planning, Coordination, and Communication

Business and Continuity of Operations

Engagement and Education

Legal Preparedness

Ethical Considerations

Resource-Poor Settings: Infrastructure and Capacity Building

Resource-Poor Settings: Response, Recovery, and Research