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Arizona chief medical officers call for curfew, ban on indoor dining

Arizona chief medical officers call for curfew, ban on indoor dining
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Arizona chief medical officers called on Tuesday for a statewide curfew and a ban on indoor dining in a letter to the state’s head health official, warning the state is approaching a “life-threatening COVID-19 surge.”

Eight medical officers addressed the letter obtained by The Arizona Republic to Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ, requesting Arizona officials take action within the next 72 hours.

The letter appeals to Christ to institute a 10 p.m. curfew and pause indoor dining for the next 30 days and then reassess if the restrictions are still needed. Their recommendations also include banning gatherings of more than 25 people, reevaluating any approved gatherings or permits and halting group athletic activities.

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"If fewer Arizonans are infected with COVID‐19, we believe the state’s financial prosperity can rebound more quickly and we can collectively return to a more normal lifestyle," the letter said, according to the Republic.

The medical officers called for the restrictions to be followed “in conjunction” with wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands. 

"Please help us, as the healthcare leaders of your state, to bridge this gap until the vaccine can be widely available to the public,” they wrote. “This has been a long road for us all, but there is hope on the horizon."

Among the signatories are Chief Clinical Officer for Banner Health Marjorie Bessel, Chief Medical Officer for the Arizona division of Dignity Health Keith Frey and Hospital Medical Director for the Mayo Clinic in Arizona Alyssa Chapital, the Republic reported.

"We want to prevent Arizona hospitals from reaching crisis levels of care, avoid preventable deaths from COVID and keep children in school,” the letter said, noting that restrictions need at least two weeks before having an effect. 

"We are increasingly concerned that widespread transmission of COVID in the state is likely to severely strain, and potentially outstrip, available health care resources within the coming two to three weeks,” the letter read.

Arizona has seen coronavirus cases rise throughout October and November and recorded an atypical high of more than 10,000 cases Monday. Christ reported the spike was due to a delay in processing and reporting results over Thanksgiving weekend. 

The state currently has 2,594 hospitalizations, the most since the end of July, with 597 patients in the intensive care unit and 369 on ventilators, according to The COVID Tracking Project.