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150 physician mothers urge Gov. Brown to prioritize schools, close bars and gyms

Bend pediatrician backs state's health metrics, says new priorities needed

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Dr. Rebecca Hicks, a Bend pediatrician, thinks the key to getting children back in the classroom is for people to stop going to the bar.

Hicks has co-authored a letter, signed by 150 Oregon physician mothers and sent to Gov. Kate Brown, urging her to close non-essential businesses like gyms and bars for a short period of time -- and prioritize education reopening instead.

"It really is an injustice to these children,” Hicks told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday. “So many kids, so many of my patients and so many other kids around Oregon need in-person schooling, just to be OK."

NewsChannel 21 also spoke to several area residents about schools being closed to start the year, and all agreed about the importance of having them open.

But it’s not so easy to open the schools right now, and any have interpreted Hicks’ letter to mean the doctors are pushing for that.

“I want to be clear that we agree with the governor, with the metrics that she has put forward for opening schools,” Hicks said.

She said there are four main points the doctors believe are key to getting in position to open schools: Increased funding for testing and contact tracing, increased public health messaging, and limiting indoor gatherings at bars and gyms.

The letter concludes: "We will present you with a proposal of suggestions in the coming days that we feel are essential steps at reducing community transmission.  

"We propose as the necessary first step, that bars, gyms and other non essential services for adults must be closed.  

"As physicians and as mothers we know that reducing community transmission is a must and is our best chance at giving some semblance of 'normal' back to Oregon’s children who deserve nothing less."

The final point, on potentially closing bars and gyms, may not be needed, Hicks said, but it is likely necessary, if schools are able to open this year.

She said the messaging is most important.

"We think this messaging especially needs to be geared toward younger generations,” Hicks said. “Because younger generations right now -- people in there are really fueling transmission."

Hicks said it's not likely schools could reopen this year, but the letter is only the beginning for her and her colleagues.

She said hopes to send a proposal later this week to Governor Brown, outlining a broader plan to make it possible.

Article Topic Follows: Health

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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.


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