PHILADELPHIA – Physicians today called on Republican members of the General Assembly to cease their political attacks on Gov. Tom Wolf’s actions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The partisan attacks on Wolf, a Democrat, have included a lawsuit led by some Pennsylvania Republican legislators seeking to eliminate Wolf’s efforts to maximize social distancing, including placing limits on gatherings.
On Monday, a judge President Trump had appointed ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor. Trump praised the ruling and retweeted it just a day after he held a crowded rally indoors in Las Vegas that mocked social distancing, by flouting Nevada’s 50-person limit on indoor gatherings. Shortly thereafter, research from the University of Pittsburgh showed that Gov. Wolf’s protections have saved thousands of lives.
“Every Pennsylvanian has a right to be healthy and stay alive during the COVID-19 pandemic, and attacks against science-based public health measures will only put people at risk,” said Dr. Max Cooper, Pennsylvania State Lead of the Committee to Protect Medicare and an emergency physician in Chester. “As physicians, we are extremely concerned that blind, unquestioning loyalty to President Trump is getting in the way of good public health policies and endangering people’s lives. Physicians have a responsibility to speak out when we see harm being done, and harm is being done right now to the people of Pennsylvania.”
After lifting a stay-at-home order in place from April to June, Gov. Wolf implemented limits on gatherings and ordered non-life-sustaining businesses to close, restricting gatherings in bars, restaurants and larger indoor venues in response to rising infection rates in some virus hot spots. In June, Republican legislators moved to end Wolf’s COVID-19 disaster declaration.
“Attacks on public safety measures rob people of the freedom to be safe and secure during a pandemic that has killed 200,000 Americans and nearly 8,000 Pennsylvanians in just seven months,” said Dr. Asanthi Ratnasekera, a general surgeon in Chester. “States like Pennsylvania are left to fend for ourselves because President Trump and Republican politicians in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly refuse to do the hard work of keeping people safe from a deadly pathogen. Governors on both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat, recognize that without public health, we have no economy because very sick people don’t shop or go to bars.”
Limits on gatherings are designed to encourage more social distancing, with individuals staying at least six feet apart. The gathering limits are often recommended in conjunction with other safety precautions, such as wearing masks and washing hands.
Wolf’s social distancing measures are similar to those limiting the size of gatherings and reducing capacity that are enforced by governors, Republican and Democrat, in many other states. Some Republican governors have even closed businesses in response to COVID-19 spikes, such as Texas and South Carolina. Still, Republican members of the General Assembly have worked to strip Gov. Wolf of the emergency powers he’s used to save lives.
“As physicians, we are outraged that our political leaders ask us to do the essential work of keeping people safe during a global pandemic, saving lives where we can and helping people die alone when when we have no other choice. They are supposed to work for all of us, but too many are, instead, only making our already difficult jobs infinitely harder,” said Dr. Wendy Dean, a psychiatrist in Carlisle. “It was clear early on that COVID-19 was a deadly, airborne disease but too many leaders chose the theater of distraction over taking difficult actions. Imagine what might have been different if they had used that same energy and those resources to address shortages of personal protective equipment or for other positive changes?”
The lawsuit against Wolf was brought by hair salons, drive-in movie theaters, a farmer’s market vendor, a horse trainer and several Republican officeholders. Wolf is appealing Monday’s ruling. Republican members of the Senate praised the ruling against Wolf.
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: Sep. 17, 2020
Az Ibrahim, 616-227-1940, email@example.com