Healthcare professionals pen letter to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, urging stepped up safety measures

Medical professionals by the hundreds are urging Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to step up safety measures across the state.

This week, three letters arrived on Gov. Ducey's desk, urging him to enact stronger safety measures and to tell Arizonans if they want the economy open, they’re going to have to make some sacrifices.

"This is a letter given to the governor to ask him respectfully to mandate the mask-wearing in public, and is signed by hundreds of physicians from all specialties," said OBGYN doctor Julie Kwatra.

The letters are from doctors nurses and administrators - from both political parties - and all walks of life. The professionals are alarmed by the spike in COVID-19 cases, and what they see as a lack of clear messages and policies coming from the top.

"The public is not listening, and our leadership is not conveying this message in a strong, effective manner,"  said emergency medicine doctor Elizabeth Wilson.

“When you’re an elected official, you are going to be put in a position to make some difficult choices, but really, the choice, when it comes to saving lives, shouldn’t be a difficult choice," said Dr. Kwatra.

They believe the virus has become more political than scientific, more about constitutional rights than human lives, while cases are clearly going in the wrong direction. The medical professionals are asking for mandatory masks in public and inside private businesses.

"If we continue to have a drastic rise in cases and we end up in a crisis, Arizona is going to have to shut down again," said Dr. Wilson.

Along with handwashing, social distancing, and contact tracing in Arizona and other states, they say these are simple, common-sense steps to keep all Arizonans as safe as possible.

The doctors also want more medical support going to underserved and minority communities, as well as proper protective gear for all frontline healthcare workers.

The letter closes with:

"It’s time for us to put individual desires aside, and do what’s best for the good of the entire community."

FOX 10 has reached out to the Governor's Office for comment. On Tuesday afternoon, officials issued a statement that reads:

"We have received the letter. Addressing COVID-19 remains our highest priority. Everyone should wear a face covering when out in public and continue to follow public health guidelines. In addition, our plan includes:

⁃Expanding our public health education campaign reminding people to stay home when sick, washing your hands, physically distance and wear a cloth face covering when physical distancing is not possible;

⁃Continuing to ramp up testing, with a focus on residents and staff at our long-term care facilities, in our prisons and among other vulnerable parts of the population. Since the Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected Order expired in May, Arizona has seen testing more than double in capacity;

⁃Expanding contact tracing throughout the state, utilizing technology and more manpower to help contain the spread.

⁃And continuing to focus on hospital capacity, with a team of 44 epidemiologists tracking the data in real time and continued load balancing of hospital resources through the Arizona Surge Line."

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Additional resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - How it spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, FAQ (In Spanish/En Español)

Arizona COVID-19 Response - Public resources, FAQ, webinars (In Spanish/En Español)

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

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