NC doctors pen letter to Vice President Pence urging him to stop holding rallies

Even with Election Day days away, hundreds of doctors -- including some in the Charlotte area -- want Vice President Mike Pence to stop having rallies because of the risk of COVID-19.

The Committee to Protect Medicare wrote a letter to the vice president and was signed by more than 300 physicians from across the country, including 37 from North Carolina.

It points out that several of Pence’s advisors tested positive for COVID-19 and even though Pence tested negative, doctors worry he’s not following health guidelines.

The doctors also argue Pence is not an essential worker, adding campaign rallies “are not essential to the sustenance of life, unlike the many essential workers who support our social, economic, energy, healthcare and other critical infrastructure -- often at great risk to their lives and the safety of their families.”

The committee of doctors also mentioned outbreaks connected to President Donald Trump’s rallies.

“As physicians, we have been extremely concerned about the risk the Trump campaign’s rallies pose to the public health, and the fact that several of Pence’s aides recently contracted COVID-19 only gives greater cause for concern,” Dr. Jessica Schorr Saxe, a retired family physician in Charlotte said. “Even if Pence weren’t a potential carrier, we know that Trump campaign rallies are often followed by community outbreaks, and that is the last thing North Carolina communities need as our state shatters new COVID-19 records.”

On Thursday, Channel 9 learned two people who attended his rally in Gastonia tested positive.

The cases aren’t evidence the virus spread there, but health officials asked everyone who attended to get tested.

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READ THE FULL LETTER:

"Dear Vice President Pence & the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign,

As physicians committed to the health and safety of our patients and our communities, we call on Vice President Mike Pence to cancel all his campaign rallies because we are concerned that these events needlessly expose people to COVID-19 and increase the danger of community spread.

We further believe that, with all due respect to the vice president’s office, Vice President Pence is not an essential worker. Campaign rallies are not essential to the sustenance of life, unlike the many essential workers who support our social, economic, energy, healthcare and other critical infrastructure -- often at great risk to their lives and the safety of their families.

In recent days, we learned that five people in Vice President Pence’s inner circle -- including his chief of staff and other close advisors -- have tested positive for COVD-19. Vice President Pence and his staff have also been in close proximity to President Trump, who contracted COVID-19 earlier in October. While Vice President Pence reports that he tested negative for COVID-19, we are concerned that he is not following safety measures and guidelines the coronavirus task force he leads recommend to minimize COVID-19 infections, notably his continuing refusal to quarantine as public health experts urge for anyone who has been within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more. Additionally, we have begun to see cases of re-infections, including one fatality in the Netherlands.

Just as importantly, we are concerned that Vice President Pence’s rallies pack large crowds of people together at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging, including in communities that will host these rallies. High positive rates and local cases, combined with crowded gatherings and little mask wearing at these Trump-Pence campaign rallies, increase the likelihood of disease transmission and community spread. Already, Vice President Pence’s rallies have violated safety measures designed to maximize social distancing and reduce the risk of infections.

New data shows that we are right to be concerned about large-scale campaign rallies: Of President Trump’s 22 events held between June and September, half led to county-wide increases in COVID-19 cases, suggesting the rallies contributed to community spread.

President Trump and Vice President Pence’s refusal to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines is out of step with not just science and evidence, but the American people as well. Overwhelming majorities of Americans -- including majorities of Republicans and independents -- wear masks when in public. Three in four voters support mandatory mask requirements, with punishments for violations.

With cases rising in communities throughout the nation, we must redouble our efforts to suppress the spread of COVID-19. That means we must wear masks when in public, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings -- and we must implement these measures more rigorously to rein in a third wave of COVID-19 that experts fear could be worse than what we saw in spring and summer.

As the head of the administration’s COVID-19 task force, Vice President Pence’s rallies send a dangerous message. By refusing to take basic safety precautions despite being at the epicenter of outbreaks in the White House, Vice President Pence sets a bad example: If the head of our nation’s COVID-19 efforts doesn’t take his own guidelines seriously, neither should ordinary Americans.

For all these reasons, Vice President Pence should cancel all his rallies and lead by example."