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Pima County Medical Society: Gov. Ducey Endangers Arizona Students with No-Mask School Order
This piece ran in the July regular newsletter and on the website. It has been updated and ran in the Arizona Daily Star on Saturday, July 31.
Please find an excerpt of the updated version below.
Ole Thienhaus, MD
Michael Hamant, MD
Family Medicine and Sports Medicine
PCMS Board Member and a Past President
Special to the Arizona Daily Star
The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
The Pima County Medical Society opposes Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order rescinding university COVID-19 mitigation measures, the prohibition of mandatory masking by children in public schools, and the prohibition of quarantining COVID-19 exposed students when necessary.
The executive order prohibits the state’s universities from instituting their evidence-based guidelines and CDC-consistent protocols for COVID-19 mitigation.
The universities’ plan had been to require proof of vaccination or to have biweekly COVID-19 antigen testing and to require those not vaccinated to wear face masks while on campus.
The Pima County Medical Society supports masking of students and staff at public and charter schools. Children under 12 are not yet candidates for the COVID-19 vaccines, and currently fewer than 30% of the state’s students from age 12 to 18 are vaccinated.
The guideline from the American Academy of Pediatrics (aap.org) is for all students to be masked while at school, while the current CDC guideline is for only the unvaccinated to be required to wear masks. Unfortunately, the Arizona Legislature passed legislation that prohibits mandatory masking requirements by school districts, so legislative relief will be required.
Gov. Ducey also issued an executive order that prohibits school districts from requiring the quarantining of students exposed to COVID-19. However, decisions about imposing quarantines are in the purview of county health departments and not the state.
Masking and quarantining are the most effective public health measures to protect the unvaccinated. Therefore, the Pima County Medical Society is in strong support of public health authorities to require masking and quarantining (when necessary) to protect children in public schools.
The governor has taken a stance that is in opposition to science and public safety. By so doing he has not only endangered many students and faculty but risks a larger community-wide outbreak of COVID-19 when in-person classes resume.
Click here to read the full piece in the Arizona Daily Star.
Ole Thienhaus, MD is an psychiatrist and the President of Pima County Medical Society. Michael Hamant, MD is a family medicine and sports medicine doctor and is a PCMS board member and a Past President.