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Health care workers want more pandemic action from Ducey. His office urges vaccinations

Gov. Doug Ducey’s office said the pandemic has taken a heartbreaking toll as Arizona surpasses 25,000 total deaths from COVID-19. But the governor’s office did not respond to several questions from KJZZ News about the state’s pandemic response. 

Arizona health care workers are calling for more action from state leaders as the omicron variant pushes COVID-19 caseloads to record highs, overwhelming hospitals. Last week, more than  1,200 Arizona health care professionals sent a letter to Ducey and other state leaders asking them to establish indoor mask requirements; increase access to COVID-19 testing; provide free, high-quality masks to the public; and increase funding for air filtration systems in schools and businesses. At the time, Ducey's office told KJZZ News the governor had received the letter and was reviewing it. 

KJZZ News this week submitted a number of questions to Ducey’s office to follow up on the letter. Ducey’s spokesperson, C.J. Karamargin, did not respond to most of the questions. He said Ducey continues to encourage Arizonans to get vaccinated. When asked if the governor plans to meet with the concerned health care workers, Karamargin said Ducey consults with health experts regularly.

In response to Arizona surpassing 25,000 COVID-19 deaths, Karamargin provided a written statement. 

"The coronavirus pandemic has taken a heartbreaking toll," Karamargin wrote. "No community or state, no country, has been spared. We mourn each and every loss, and we share the grief of the family and friends they left behind. Today's milestone is a sober reminder about how important it is for all Arizonans to get the vaccine. It is safe, effective and proven to be the best possible protection against this awful virus."

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Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent. She has produced work for NPR, New England Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, PRI's The World, Washington Post, Reuters and more.She has a master’s degree in radio journalism from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism.She lives in central Phoenix with her husband, two daughters, and ill-behaved cat and dog. Her side-passions include photography, crosswords and hot sauce.