In an effort to promote public health and slow the coronavirus cases in our state, nearly 700 medical providers in Arizona have signed a letter to Governor Doug Ducey, asking him to require residents wear masks when in public.
The health care professionals concerns in the letter to the governor is that the state has reopened and people feel it is safe to resume life. However many are not choosing to follow the suggestion of protecting themselves with a mask when in public and the state continues to see a spike in coronavirus cases.
On Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported that the state saw an increase of 2,392 new cases of COVID-19. It was the highest single-day increase the state has seen yet.
Over the last few months, the message from Governor Ducey has always been to urge people to wear masks when in public. However, when specifically asked about the possibility of mandating the use of masks while in public, Ducey has not addressed the issue.
The letter from the 688 Arizona health care professionals asks the governor to mandate wearing masks to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
Despite their urgency, one of the signers questions if the Governor truly knows what is at stake.
“The only people I saw in that building masked were my husband, my son and me,” Dr. Susan Hughes said. Dr. Hughes is one of the authors of the letter and she delivered it to the Governor and ADHS director Dr. Cara Christ. “It doesn’t mean other people aren’t masked but obviously, public health and wearing a mask and following CDC guidelines are not within what Governor Ducey wants to do.”
A spokesman for the governor said “addressing COVID-19 remains our highest priority. Everyone should wear a face covering when out in public and continue to follow public health guidelines. ”
The governor’s plan is to expand the message through a public health education campaign. As well as constant reminders for people to stay home if they are sick, wash your hands and physically distance.
Recently the mayors of Nogales and Tucson sent letters to the governor asking for permission to make mask-wearing a mandate in their cities. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego are among a growing list of Arizona leaders that are calling for the state to take action.
Below is the letter sent by the medical professionals on Monday:
Dear Governor Ducey,
Since the reopening of Arizona’s economy, our health risk has drastically increased. The sad fact is that nothing has changed regarding COVID-19 since the Stay at Home Executive Order was put into effect on March 31. Since the Executive Order was lifted, many Arizonans believe something has changed, and it is somehow now safe to resume normal life. Sadly, this is far from the truth. There is no vaccine and no treatment for COVID-19, and it is just as contagious now as it was last month or the month before.
We write to urge you: Please issue a state-wide mandate requiring universal masking in public for those 2 years old and above. There is sufficient, clear, scientific evidence that wearing masks is one way to decrease the spread of COVID-19 and thus would reduce both the wave of severely affected patients requiring ICU and ventilator resources as well as unnecessary deaths.
The following references strongly support universal masking:
Our healthcare system is becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 and we need your help and partnership in mitigating this disease spread. We cannot simply “learn to live with” a disease that is devastating entire communities. We believe that universal mask wearing is ONE very effective and important strategy to continue the fight against COVID-19. Keeping the economy going while maintaining universal masking and social distancing is a win win situation for every member of the community regardless of political views in that it balances economics with public health.
The entire health care community is not the only group of people greatly concerned about protecting our community. Greater Phoenix Leadership is made up of leading Valley CEOs who aim to align leadership and resources at the intersection of the business, education, philanthropy and public policy sectors to improve economic vitality and quality of life. This amazing, well-educated group of business leaders found masking so important they addressed ASU and encouraged mandating masks on campus. ASU is now, for many reasons, requiring all individuals on campus to wear masks.
There are so many reasons this simple act of wearing a mask can help the greater good. A mask decreases harm and protects the community in the same manner as requiring passengers to wear seatbelts in a car, forbidding texting while driving, outlawing jaywalking and requiring life vests on a boat. By wearing masks, we can curtail a huge surge of COVID-19 cases in Arizona and reduce unnecessary mortality in our community.
In addition, the mitigation of COVID-19 in the community will also allow those with other necessary hospital needs to be cared for in a timely manner, adequately and without added risk.
Please stand up and help educate as well as protect those who do not understand just how vital universal masking is at this critical time. Help communicate to all Arizonans that it is out of respect for others, respect for humanity, respect for our great country, respect for our businesses and respect for the American way of life that mandating mask usage for a time period is essential.
Please stand with the frontline healthcare workers who risk their lives to care for COVID-19 patients every day. We encourage you, Governor Ducey, to follow the scientific data that shows that universal masking decreases the spread of COVID-19 and mandate masks in the state of Arizona immediately for individuals 2 y/o and above, while continuing social distancing, in order to not only decrease the number of unnecessary deaths but also allow our businesses to remain open.
The following Board Certified (and Board Eligible) Medical Doctors, Doctors of Osteopathy, Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners:
Click here for list of names that signed the letter.