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Kozachik: In solidarity with health-care heroes in the face of COVID denial

Behind the PPE, they suffer real human emotional trauma

In hospitals all over the country we read reports of surging COVID cases. That, on top of people showing up at hospitals after having delayed treatment for other necessary medical issues through our last COVID uptick is once again placing our health care workers on the front line of a pandemic that nobody can be emotionally prepared for. My staff and I offer our most sincere gratitude for the heroic service being delivered throughout the health care system.

In Arizona, the situation is no better. COVID patients require extraordinary care from the health care system. The Delta surge is forcing care to be provided in hallways, waiting rooms and even in ambulances while patients wait for the next bed to free up. None of us on the outside can know the full extent of the sacrifice being given by doctors, nurses, technicians, and everybody else who is a part of the health care delivery process. We are closing in on 1,000,000 COVID cases in Arizona. In Pima County we've lost 2,500 family, friends and loved ones. Many times, it was a health care worker who stood by in the final minutes, alone with our lost partner.

During a pandemic, spreading misinformation is a direct threat to public health. Certainly, social media has made that more commonplace. So much so that it's not realistic to expect local media to have the resources to stay abreast of all the false statements being made that sow confusion, and sadly have become hate-filled diatribes of unscientific conspiracy theories.

That is in fact what is being engaged in by my opponent for the City Council seat in Ward 6, along with his supporters.

I am writing this today in order to set the record straight, so misinformation doesn't cause additional stress on anyone trying to responsibly address COVID in our community.

Statements Val Romero and his supporters have made that are simply untrue and irresponsible include - "there is no shortage of ICU beds", "doctors and nurses are quitting because of vaccine mandates", "masks do not prevent COVID", "the vax (sic) does not prevent COVID, nor does it prevent the spread of COVID."

None of that is true — all of it is being spread throughout social media by Val Romero and his supporters. They refer to those of us who support mask and vaccination mandates as "Nazi leftists that are destroying Tucson." Here are the facts:

  • Fewer than 8% of adult intensive care beds are available statewide. Hospitals are once again relying on the state surge line to find beds for patients.
  • The American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Association of American Medical Colleges, and National Association for Home Care and Hospice have all signed a letter in support of mask and vaccination mandates.
  • COVID is largely an airborne spread disease - every responsible health care professional attest to the value in reducing spread of COVID by wearing a mask that covers both your mouth and nose.
  • Over 185 million Americans have been vaccinated for COVID. Right now, 96% of ICU COVID patients are unvaccinated.

COVID denial as a campaign theme is irresponsible and is disrespectful to the heroic sacrifices our health care providers have been making for 18 months and counting. COVID denial will continue the pandemic unnecessarily. COVID denial will cost lives unnecessarily.

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Our entire community - our entire nation - is suffering COVID fatigue. The disease is largely preventable. Science has provided highly effective vaccines that are free and widely available.

Our health care providers rightly are experiencing compassion fatigue when standing bedside with someone fighting for their life who is unvaccinated.

Our health care providers deserve representation at the city level made up of people who believe science, who do not use social media to spread misinformation about the pandemic, and who respect the reality that the exercise of liberty is conditioned on its impact on the liberty of others.

Exposing others to this life-threatening virus is not the free exercise of liberty.

Steve Kozachik represents Ward 6 on the Tucson City Council. Contact him at at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or (520) 791-4601.

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Kozachik at a May 2019 meeting at the Benedictine Monastery.

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