View full video of the press call here.
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Pennsylvania physicians today called on Pennsylvania’s Republican legislators to put aside partisan differences and urgently pass measures to provide more PPE for frontline workers instead of rushing partisan attacks on the state’s election system. The doctors, also members of the Committee to Protect Medicare, urged lawmakers to follow Gov. Tom Wolf’s lead by taking the virus seriously and wearing masks while meeting on the House floor.
“As physicians, we view safety measures such as wearing a mask and social distancing as critical to reducing COVID-19 infections and minimizing disease spread in our communities — all measures that Gov. Tom Wolf and his public health team have implemented to protect people yet which face increasing attacks from politicians and partisan special interests,” said Dr. Max Cooper, MD, Pennsylvania State Lead for the Committee to Protect Medicare and an emergency physician in southeast Pennsylvania. “We see firsthand how these measures can save lives, but politicians who flaunt the guidelines and requirements and spread inaccurate misinformation must be held accountable for undermining public health, enabling COVID-19 to spread in our communities, and making our jobs as health workers more difficult. Where Gov. Wolf is showing resolve and providing Pennsylvanians with a path though this pandemic that’s guided by science, his opponents are waving the white flag of surrender to a pathogen that we know we can contain with the right safeguards.”
The physicians’ remarks today come amid several significant developments in Pennsylvania’s efforts to rein in COVID-19. On Oct. 1, a federal appeals court allowed Gov. Wolf to continue enforcing crowd gathering restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while Wolf appealed a lower judge’s ruling against his executive orders limiting crowd sizes and ordering people to stay home. Three Pennsylvania Republican representatives were among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us as clear as day who is putting people’s safety and security first, and who would rather ignore evidence-based strategies that may appease their partisan allies but which only put people’s health at risk,” said Dr. Meaghan Reid, DO, an emergency physician in Drexel Hill. “As President Trump’s positive diagnosis proves, COVID-19 can infect anyone and we must redouble our vigilance. Instead of burying our heads in the sand and hoping COVID-19 goes away, doing the work now will help us make businesses, schools and public life safer so people can enjoy their freedom without putting their lives or the lives of others at risk. Pennsylvania’s legislators can still turn things around, collaborate with Gov. Wolf and help keep frontline health care workers, their families, and our communities safe.”
In addition to rejecting sound public safety measures that can reduce COVID-19 transmissions, Republican legislators are also directly increasing risks of person-to-person infections. On Oct. 1, state Representative Brian Sims tweeted that more than half of the members of the Republican caucus were not wearing masks on the House floor even as one of their members, Rep. Paul Schemel of Waynesboro, was tested COVID-19-positive. Schemel is the second House member to test positive. In May, state Rep. Andrew Lewis tested positive for COVID-19, although Democrats were not informed for a week, potentially putting people he came into contact with at risk of contracting the disease. And Republican state Rep. Dan Moul said he doesn’t wear masks around friends, erroneously suggesting friends can’t infect each other, and claimed — wrongly — that he couldn’t do anything to reduce COVID-19 infections when he said: “When it’s my turn to get it, I’m going to get it, whether I’m wearing a mask or not.”
At the same time, Republicans have been prioritizing a partisan scheme to potentially interfere with the November election results, contributing to voters’ concerns about their votes not being counted.
More than 170 studies across 16 nations and six continents show that common, simple interventions such as mask wearing and social distancing lower the risk of COVID-19 infections. In communities without mask requirements, positive case growth was three times higher than communities that implemented universal mask requirements over the long term. Studies show that maximum social distancing measures such as stay-at-home orders could save thousands of lives. One analysis credited Michigan’s stay-at-home order, which began March 24, with reducing the number of people each COVID-19-positive person infects in Michigan from 3.5 to 1.
For months, Pennsylvania’s Republican legislators have pushed proposals that would undermine basic public health safety measures to reduce COVID-19 transmissions and minimize infections, including legislation that would potentially let schools hold sporting events without mask requirements for athletes and others, and blocking a mask requirement in the chambers of the state legislature. So far, three Pennsylvania legislators have tested positive for COVID-19.
About the Committee to Protect Medicare
The Committee to Protect Medicare is an advocacy organization made up of frontline doctors engaging in direct advocacy and communications in support of a stronger healthcare system in America. To learn more: https://committeetoprotect.org/
NOTE: The physicians above are speaking in their capacity as members of the Committee to Protect Medicare. They should be identified only as indicated in this news release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 7, 2020
Az Ibrahim, 616-227-1940, firstname.lastname@example.org