2021 Legislative Session Summary The First Regular Session of the 55th Legislature was certainly one…
Ole Thienhaus, MD
Michael Hamant, MD
Family Medicine and Sports Medicine
PCMS Board Member and a Past President
The Pima County Medical Society is strongly opposed to the Executive Order issued by Gov. Doug Ducey, which prohibits the state’s universities from instituting their evidence-based guidelines and CDC-consistent protocols for COVID-19 mitigation. The CDC guidelines can be found by clicking here.
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 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 also risks a larger communitywide outbreak of COVID-19 in the fall when in-person classes resume. The vaccination rate in Arizona is not sufficient for meaningful herd immunity with the new, more contagious Delta strain of COVID-19 now spreading in our community. With low vaccination rates among the college-age cohort there is a high risk to immunocompromised members of the campus community without the planned mitigation measures in place.
The universities have an obligation to protect their community. For instance, the universities now require MMR vaccination and will continue to do so. We agree with Cara Christ, MD, head of the Arizona Department of Health Services, that the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the COVID-19 vaccines is a technical and insignificant difference from full FDA authorization and is not a reason for suspending the universities’ COVID-19 mitigation policies.
The issue at hand is not a choice between individual freedom versus conforming to government mandates, but is about being a responsible member of society. The universities’ plans offered an accommodation to those who, for whatever personal reasons, have not been vaccinated.
We urge Gov. Ducey to allow the universities to keep in place their well-designed, scientifically driven COVID-19 protocols when classes resume in the fall. Failing to do so violates his duty to protect all citizens of the state against preventable disease.
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.