Matt Heinz, an attending physician at the Tucson Medical Center and Pima Supervisor in district two, held the governor and republican Supervisor Steve Christy responsible for the 27,164 deaths from Covid in Arizona. He spoke at the February 7, 2022, meeting of Democrats of Greater Tucson.

“I don’t know how Governor Ducey can sleep,” Heinz said. “He has personally led to the deaths of thousands of Arizonans because of the fact that he never put a mask mandate in place for the entire state — even back in March of 2020.”

Gov. Ducey allowed thousands of Arizonans to die by refusing to order a face mask mandate.

“I cannot believe that this is political,” he said. “I have to chastise Supervisor Christy for what he has done, and what so many others in the Republican Party have done in terms of politicizing public health.”

“And how hypocritical! Supervisor Christy is fully vaccinated, all of the staff is fully vaccinated. He wears at least one mask walking around the supervisor’s floor on the 11th floor of our building. He follows the rules himself, but he encourages, just like so many other Republicans, their supporters to disregard them. And that makes people unsafe, all of us, and it’s just disgusting. I cannot believe it; this shouldn’t be a political subject at all.”

Heinz spoke about how Republican selfishness and misinformation have prolonged the pandemic, at the February 7, 2022 meeting of Democrats of Greater Tucson.

Betrayal by GOP Anti-Vaxxers

Steve christy
Republican Supervisor Steve Christy voted against Pima County’s indoor face mask requirement, which helps stop the spread of Covid.

“Unfortunately, we’re still in pandemic mode right now in the hospitals throughout Pima County, throughout Arizona and the nation,” he said. “And what I think I found most surprising is that we, humankind, made the decision to do that. Not all of us, obviously, but as a society, one-third of us still refuse to get vaccinated.

I could never in my wildest nightmares ever have imagined that so many people would be so willfully ignorant, or would be willing to do this to everyone else. It’s such a betrayal of the social contract that we used to hold with one another, and that’s really still affecting me as a physician.”

“We should not have a pandemic anymore, this should have been done six, seven months ago or almost entirely done. And it’s not. And it’s because of humans. Our behavior as people has led to this persistence, to Omicron.”

Dr. Heinz has been an attending physician at the Tucson Medical Center since 2003. There, he treats patients with a range of diagnoses from heart attacks, and head trauma, to chronic conditions like diabetes, PTSD and cancer. Heinz was elected to be a Pima Supervisor for District 2 in 2020. He voted to require everyone in the County to wear a face covering indoors and has actively supported vaccinations and Covid testing.

A record number of unvaccinated Covid patients

At the Tucson Medical Center, more than 100 unvaccinated Covid patients are clogging ICUs and causing the cancellation of heart operations. The record for the highest number of hospitalized Covid patients in Arizona —  3,559 — was set on January 27. Most Covid patients selfishly refused to get vaccinated and brought the disease upon themselves.

“God help us if we ever get a variant…if it has a mortality of some of the other chronic viruses, we’ve all heard about,” he warned. “Think about those world-ending, society-destroying numbers. If you have something that spreads like measles or an Omicron variant, and it kills half of the people it infects, you won’t have doctors or nurses because half of us will be dead. No one’s going to be able to actually treat people, and I reflect on that every time I’m admitting someone to the hospital with Covid.”

Again, he hammered home the importance of vaccination and wearing face masks. “Masks absolutely help,” he stated. “Surgical masks are not equivalent to an N95…but any surgical mask or N95 is sufficient,” he said.

“All viruses go through their life cycle, using us as the host to replicate,” he explained. “The more something is replicating and the faster something replicates, the more chances you have of getting a mutation. That’s why you hear people saying we really need to help vaccinate everywhere. There are parts of Pima County, especially in my district, to the south side in certain areas where we don’t have that 66% vaccination number. We need to work on that because if any part of a community has a pocket where people aren’t vaccinated, that is a breeding ground for more of those mutations to happen, and that can result in a new variant. In some cases, like with the variants that we’ve all heard about, they can harm us more effectively…and the way we prevent that is getting everybody everywhere fully vaccinated and boosted. We need to keep up with that regimen as long as we have to prevent these variants from popping up and harming us.”

There are many ways he feels that our communities could be made safer, not limited to Covid. He advocated for increased research into gun violence as a public health crisis, and briefly touched on climate change and the value of a $15 minimum wage.

But ultimately, it all came back to the harm caused by partisan fighting. Consistently, he circled back to the fact that nothing can be solved without cooperation. As long as the battles continue, people will continue to be caught in the crossfire. 

“This stupid fight that we keep picking with ourselves on masking and other things like this. I mean, it’s just like we’re four-year-olds in the sandbox. It’s really dumb, except the consequences are that people in our community have died.”