FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Utah Academy of Family Physicians, which represents more than 1,100 physicians, family medicine residents, and medical students across the state, is calling on state and local leaders to issue stay-at-home orders for every community to further slow the spread of COVID-19 for two weeks starting immediately, to be reassessed, and extended or lifted, as necessary.
We are gravely concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the public and on practicing Family Physicians providing Primary Care in Utah. We are particularly concerned that those without symptoms can transmit and spread the virus without realizing it – which can severely affect our capacity to safeguard the health of our communities.
We request the Governor order all persons in the State of Utah to stay home or at their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of state operations deemed critical by the Governor’s office. Individuals should only leave their residence and practice social distancing to acquire necessities such as food, medicine, or medical care. Individuals should call their medical provider’s office, or EMS in an emergency, prior to seeking medical care.
COVID-19 is spreading throughout Utah and we have seen that encouraging people to follow social distancing is not enough; parents need the support of an order to help our youth understand the seriousness of the challenge we face. We need to take these steps now to keep our healthcare system from breaking down under the strain of the coming surge.
We ask the Governor and state and local officials, to use their political authority to provide enough masks and other personal protective equipment to keep healthcare workers safe. We also need effective testing kits that get rapid results so that we can more effectively isolate those patients that are positive for the virus.
Urgent action is required if we are to keep the Primary Care Workforce protected and healthy enough to respond to this pandemic. We ask the Governor and state and local officials to do the following:
- Provide more personal protective equipment immediately. Hospitals, urgent care centers, and primary care offices are looking to the community for donations; investigate and encourage any business able to produce this to do so now, not later.
- Coordinate with hotels, vacation rentals, empty condominiums, and homes for free housing for healthcare providers in order to slow the spread of coronavirus among a high risk cohort: healthcare workers. The people working in hospitals, as well as first responders, may need this for isolation and to protect their families.
- Secure facilities and fund provisional housing that is needed for high-risk homeless individuals who are not able to isolate in a large homeless shelter.
- Consider plans for use of empty hotels or warehouses as ‘field hospitals’, and to start plans for coordinating with the Utah National Guard, as has already started happening in other states, in the event our hospital beds are filled to capacity.
- In a time when many of us are being asked to rank re-deployment job roles, create a mechanism to ensure malpractice coverage for any provider who practices outside their scope, or at an alternative site, during this time of need.
The UAFP joins the American Academy of Family Physicians in calling on Congress to ensure that more Americans can access healthcare from their providers via telemedicine, to demand more testing kits to help better identify cases in our communities, and to ensure physicians have the personal protective equipment they need to continue to treat all patients safely.