PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Two groups of Arizona doctors have signed on to open letters calling on Gov. Doug Ducey to require people to wear masks in public.
"The bottom line is it's hard to argue with the science," said Dr. Christine Severance, a family physician who organized one of the open letters. "You can take the stance about civil rights or politics all you want, but the bottom line is the evidence shows that this disease is deadly, that it doesn't care who you are, what your political stance is, what your age is, where you live. It hits everybody."
There is also a growing body of work that points to mask usage as one of the key ways to stop the spread of COVID-19. The National Academy of Science's official journal recently published that masks are "the determinant in shaping the trends of the pandemic."
"I think unfortunately this has become a political issue," Dr. Severance said.
Gov. Ducey has been supportive of face masks. Tuesday, he tweeted out guidance from the state health department about wearing face coverings in public and other measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Still, he hasn't worn a mask at his press briefings and has stopped short of mandating they be work in public statewide.
Gov. Ducey's office didn't respond to a request for comment by the time this story was published.
"So I know some people view this as an issue of personal freedom, or political freedom. It shouldn't be viewed in that regard," said Arizona Rep. Greg Stanton. "We are fighting the worst pandemic in over 100 years, and wearing of the mask, the mandating of the mask, is a common sense thing to do to fight this terrible virus."
The Democratic congressman has been calling for a statewide mask requirement since Sunday as coronavirus cases in Arizona rise.
"It wasn't that we opened up too quickly. It's that we opened up unprepared, less prepared than we should have been," Rep. Stanton said.
Meanwhile, the doctors behind the open letters are calling for more action. Along with a mask requirement, they also want more contact tracing efforts, increased availability of hand sanitizer and handwashing stations, and more personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers.
"Life as we once knew it has to change indefinitely," reads one of the open letters, "To ensure the safety of fellow community members, to protect the most fragile of our population, and to reduce the strain on our healthcare system."