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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jun. 15, 202002:05 PM EST

Jacksonville doctors sign letter urging precautions at RNC

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They ask Gov. Ron DeSantis to require masks, screening and frequent sanitization at the arena.
by: Katie Garwood Staff Writer

Seventeen Jacksonville doctors are among more than 100 who signed a letter June 12 to Gov. Ron DeSantis, urging him to require certain safeguards at the Republican National Convention to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It lays out three requests for the convention: require convention attendees to wear masks and social distance; implement “rapid and aggressive” testing in Jacksonville and surrounding areas; and implement rigorous screening and safety procedures inside the convention arena, such as temperature checks, hand-washing and sanitizing stations, and frequent cleaning of the facility. 

The Republican National Convention is scheduled to take place Aug. 24-27 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

More than 100 Florida medical professionals signed the letter, which was organized by the Committee to Protect Medicare. 

“As health professionals, we are concerned at the Republican National Committee’s decision to hold its convention acceptance speech and celebration in Jacksonville at a time when COVID-19 infections and deaths in Florida are on the rise,” the letter read.

Bringing in thousands of people from across the nation for the RNC “will only increase the likelihood of community spread across Florida.”

The letter cited the recent increases in infection rates across the state and testing that lags behind where it should be. Statewide, there have been more than 1,000 new cases each day since June 2, with a peak of 2,337 new cases on June 12.

“COVID-19 is making a second surge in Florida, proving that this pandemic is still with us,” the letter read. “The rising number of cases coinciding with easing of social distancing measures indicates that COVID-19 is capable of returning aggressively when we let our guard down.

“By requiring strong health and safety measures during the convention, Gov. DeSantis and the RNC can do their part to help protect all Floridians and save lives.”

These are the area doctors who signed the letter: 

• Leonardo Alonso, DO; Emergency Medicine (Jacksonville)

• Neeru Arora, MD PA; Nephrologist (Jacksonville)

• Carl Burak, MD and JD; Non-profit CEO (Jacksonville)

• Zhigao Huang, MD; Neurologist (Jacksonville)

• Ryan Lamond, MD; Emergency Medicine (Jacksonville)

• Hadas Maimon, MD; Psychiatrist (Neptune Beach)

• Carolyn McClanahan, MD; Family Medicine (Jacksonville)

• Clive Rayner, DMD; Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (Orange Park)

• Kenneth Sekine, MD; Gynecologist (Jacksonville)

• Barbara Sharp, MD; Radiologist (Jacksonville)

• David Siebert, MD, MS, FHM; Internal Medicine (Jacksonville)

• R Todd Snowden, MD; Otolaryngologist (Jacksonville)

• Max Solano, MD; Hospitalist (Jacksonville)

• Nancy Staats, MD; Anesthesiologist (Atlantic Beach)

• Bryce Tiller, MD; Emergency Medicine (Jacksonville)

• Michael Vernacchio, DO; Family Practice (Fleming Island)

• Melba Wright, MD; PMR (Jacksonville)

The letter and full list of doctors is available here:

https://actionnetwork.org/forms/fl-doctors-request-rnc-safeguards

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