Nearly 800 Oregon doctors, led by Dr. Paul Lewis, an immunologist and the former tricounty health officer, are taking issue with Clackamas County Chair Tootie Smith and other COVID-19 deniers who have urged Oregonians to disobey Gov. Kate Brown's executive order on social distancing over the Thanksgiving holiday.
"Any promotion of in-person social gatherings outside of our households or 'bubbles' is dangerous and irresponsible," the letter says. "We have countless examples of how such gatherings endanger those who attend and also everyone they live with, work with, or who are part of their broader community."
That message comes as the Oregon Health Authority today announced 1,011 new COVID-19 cases, new record highs in COVID hospitalizations and 21 deaths, the most it has announced in a single day. Officials have now attributed a total of 847 deaths to the pandemic.
As Oregon's case count has risen in recent weeks, hospitals have seen a dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 patients, leading physicians to worry about staffing and personal protective equipment shortages.
"Our hospitals are close to capacity, our frontline colleagues are tired, and some of the supplies we need to care for you are limited," letter adds.
"If the spread of COVID-19 does not slow and reverse, we will not be able to provide the best care for anyone whether they need a ventilator for COVID-19, chemotherapy for cancer, or a safe place to deliver a baby."
Here's a look at the latest hospitalization data, which shows 474 COVID patients hospitalized, including 113 in intensive care units.