BURLINGTON (December 7, 2021) – The Vermont Chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP), representing more than 400 internal medicine physician specialists and medical students in Vermont, urges Governor Phil Scott to implement evidence-based measures such as wearing masks indoors to prevent and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Vermont Chapter is part of the ACP, which nationally represents 161,000 internal medicine physician specialists and medical student members. ACP members are primary care and hospital-based physicians who confront COVID-19 daily and who provide care to millions of Americans with ongoing health care needs unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to Governor Scott dated December 2, 2021, the Vermont ACP Chapter Council expressed concern about the rising tide of COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths in the state, noting an urgency to undertake effective measures to limit the spread of the disease. Adoption of indoor masking on a state level, when combined with other infection control measures (access to rapid testing, staying home when ill, and staying home for 10 days if known to be COVID-19 positive regardless of symptoms), can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
As internal medicine physicians, we see the devastating toll COVID-19 has taken on our patients and their families, all of which could be mitigated if additional public health measures are put in place. Specifically, we urge Governor Scott to implement the following recommendations as part of a comprehensive public health strategy:
• Require indoor masking in public facilities such as work, schools, manufacturing and retail establishments, public transportation, and in other settings at high risk of COVID-19 transmission. Indoor masking requirements can be linked to county-level transmission data.
• Adequately and appropriately enforce indoor mask requirements in a manner that does not negatively impact access to care and other health equity measures.
• Subsidize or directly provide face masks to the public.
• Increase access to rapid testing.
• Provide clear communications to Vermonters about the risks of highly contagious variants such as Delta and Omicron, the need for infection mitigation measures in public facilities and informal gatherings, and the importance of indoor masking and prompt testing for anyone with symptoms.
We are grateful for the perseverance and compassion of Vermonters in this ongoing pandemic.
The letter to Governor Phil Scott can be found at: https://www.acponline.org/system/files/documents/about_acp/chapters/vt/letter_to_governor_scott.pdf