Florida Physicians Unite With Mayors in Heartfelt Plea to Floridians: Wear Your Masks

As COVID-19 deaths in Florida continue to rise, doctors concerned about their patients and  mayors concerned about their communities are desperate for Florida residents to follow the  basic CDC guidelines for preventing further spread, including wearing a mask. Over 1000  Florida doctors recommended these interventions last summer but were ignored. With the  holiday season in full swing, they are joining with Florida Mayors to make a heartfelt plea to  fellow Floridians, sharing the experiences of their patients and constituents with the disease to  help drive home how important protecting one another and ourselves from it is. 

WHO: 

● Mayor Ellen Glasser, Atlantic Beach 

● Mayor Dan Gelber, Miami Beach 

● Dr. Mohammed Reza, Infectious Diseases Specialist, Jacksonville 

● Dr. Nancy Staats, Physician and Founder of Doctors Fighting COVID 

● Dr. Frederick Southwick, Infectious Diseases Specialist, Gainesville 

Other interested attendees who may comment – Nikki Fried, Florida Commissioner of  Agriculture, Mayor Elaine Brown, Drs. Anil Suryaprasad, Adrianna Cantville, Jennifer Cowart, Alan Halperin, and Carl Burak 

WHAT: Press call via Zoom with Mayors Glasser and Gelber and Drs. Reza, Staats, and  Southwick explaining why it’s so critical right now to stop the spread of COVID-19 and not  completely overwhelm our health care system, as well as how masks and social distancing are  critical tools for accomplishing this goal. They’ll relay their stories illustrating how deadly COVID 19 can be and why they’re so committed to promoting mask usage. 

WHEN: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15th at 12:10 p.m. ET 

WHERE: Zoom call, RSVP to Frederick Southwick at [email protected] for link * If you’d like to record the call, please indicate so we can allow in Zoom settings. 

About Doctors Fighting COVID 

Doctors Fighting COVID is an advocacy organization made up of frontline doctors from Northern  Florida engaged in direct advocacy and communications in support of scientifically based  infection control practices to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Doctors’ Letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Regarding COVID 19 Public Health Emergency 

Dear Governor DeSantis: 

We represent a group of physicians who are responsible for managing the devastating consequences of  COVID-19. Each day we take care of patients infected by this virus who are struggling to breathe and  don’t know if they will survive. In Florida we break records daily for new cases. It is now critical that our  state adhere to the CDC and State Surgeon General’s recommendations to reduce the spread of the  virus. We respectfully request that the State of Florida immediately institute the following: 

1) Universal face masks: Face masks are effective in limiting the spread of the virus, but only if over 80%  of people wear them. The majority of Americans, regardless of political party, support this safety measure.  Many cities in Florida have already initiated mandatory face mask requirements in response to increased  infections, however mask use is not yet at the high levels needed to stop viral spread. Given the steep  rise in cases, face masks should now be mandated state-wide and enforced diligently. People with  respiratory conditions or who find them uncomfortable can use face shields instead, but should not be  exempt from their use—rather those with underlying pulmonary conditions are at even higher risk. Face  masks do not increase infection, do not cause low blood oxygen or high carbon dioxide levels. Surgeons  wear facemasks all day in the OR without ill effect; they are safe and should be tolerable for short periods  by everyone. We hope you consider our sincere offer of assistance in creating public education materials  in order to provide accurate information on masks and why they are so imperative in preventing the  spread of this virus. 

2) Ban indoor gatherings with more than 50 people: We know the spread of the virus is correlated with  both the number AND duration of contacts. The more an individual interacts with others and the longer  the exposure lasts, the higher the risk of contracting the virus. The CDC recommends no groups larger  than 50 convene together indoors. Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain  

at least six feet apart and where attendees travel from outside the local areas pose the highest risk.  Therefore, we ask that until the epidemic in Florida is controlled, indoor gatherings over 50 people be  banned. Public health experts agree that having large gatherings will likely increase the spread of COVID 19 and result in increased hospitalizations and death, especially in vulnerable populations. Face masks  alone will not slow the spread, distancing and avoidance of large groups are also necessary. 

3) Additional measures: Although it is impossible to predict the future, the number of COVID-19 cases is  likely to increase in the next several weeks and months. Therefore, in addition to the above measures, we  ask that six feet of social distancing at all times, limited capacity for all indoor settings, installation of hand  washing stations, increased public health testing and reporting and contact tracing all be implemented  and enforced. 

The door is rapidly closing on our opportunity to limit the spread. Enacting the above measures  immediately will reduce infections, disability and death. These measures have also recently been shown  to be as effective as a full shut-down, with less economic impact. We want to see Floridians able to work  safely and keep our economy moving forward. These measures are not political and are based on scientific research and sound public health policies. 

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