Healthcare workers demand mask mandate in schools across Maricopa County

School, education
Posted at 10:17 PM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 01:37:08-04

PHOENIX  — More than 1,000 local healthcare workers have signed a letter, urging the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to require masks indoors in classrooms across the county.

They say our current approach, with some school districts requiring masks and others not, is leading to a rapid spread of COVID-19, filling up hospital beds and emergency departments.

LIST: Valley schools with mask, vaccine mandates

”Our innocent children, who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, they have no choice in the matter. They are now suffering in incredible numbers,” says Dr. Christina Bergin, who co-authored the letter.

Dr. Bergin and Dr. Ruth Franks Snedecor would like the board to take action by adopting a mandate.

"When you talk about a classroom, where even one child is unmasked or a teacher is unmasked or anyone in the classroom is unmasked - and is positive for COVID - they then can infect six to 10 members of that classroom,” says Dr. Snedecor.

The board is appreciative of the letter and tells ABC15 they share the same concerns about the rise in cases and hospitalizations in the county.

In a statement, the board said: "Members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appreciate the letter from professionals in our medical community. They share the same concerns about the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Maricopa County which is why the Board had experts from the Department of Public Health present the latest data and information in a public meeting on Monday. Members have encouraged residents to use mitigation tactics to protect themselves and others and they will continue to support the role Public Health plays as the department works with schools, healthcare professionals and the broader community."

“Any time I go out and speak to anybody about this, I tell them public health should never be about politics,” says Jack Sellers, Chairman District 1, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

The board even held a public meeting on Monday with experts from the Maricopa County Department of Health, who presented the latest data and information.

"One-in-4 cases are children; we have never seen that in this pandemic,” says Maricopa County Health Department, Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine.

The county health director says schools without mask requirements are twice as likely to have an outbreak than those with one.

"My mask protects you and your mask protects me. This is, this is about community,” says Snedecor.

It seems as if these doctors are facing an uphill battle in their demand for universal indoor masking in schools within Maricopa County.

“We recognize there are limitations on what this board can do now, what you all can do now, compared to earlier and we have to acknowledge that,” says Bill Gates, Vice Chairman District 3, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

You can read the full letter below.