Since many Governors like Doug Ducey have reopened their state’s economies, about half the country has experienced a surge in Coronavirus (COVID 19) cases.
Arizona is one of those states.
Please read Michael Bryan’s columns on Ducey and the Coronavirus for greater detail.
Governor Ducey, out of a premature desire to reopen the state’s economy before Arizona met all the CDC guidelines, let the COVID 19 genie out of the lamp before the State peaked in Coronavirus cases.
With people not adequately social distancing in locations like bars, restaurants, rivers, and lakes, Coronavirus cases have markedly spiked in the last two weeks.
William Humble, the predecessor of Dr. Cara Crist, the state health director, in comments to the Phoenix New Times, confirmed that:
“You see this steady incline in the number of new cases relative to total cases and it’s attributable to the drop in the stay-at-home order…“Beginning on May 26, we started to see a rebound in cases in every single county, and it was remarkable how it all starts on the 26th. If you add an incubation period to the 15th, along with a few days for testing delay at the laboratory, then you get May 26th.”
Governor Ducey, at his June 4, 2020, Press Conference, used a Donald Trump line and attributed the rise in testing to the increase in Coronavirus cases.
Humble, in the Phoenix New Times piece, disputes that, stating:
“The increase in cases is not due to increased testing. It’s due to increases in the number of cases in the community.”
The June 8, 2020 edition of Yellow Sheet (please see link at the end of the article) further reports:
There have been four days since the Governor allowed the reopening of the state where 1000 new cases have been reported.
Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds are reportedly near capacity in the state’s largest hospital network.
Rt Live, an organization that tracks the spread of the pandemic indicates Arizona is the fifth-fastest in the current growth of the virus.
ProPublica reports that Arizona has tied with Massachusetts for the highest rate of positive tests per 100,000 people.
The Washington Post reported on June 9, 2020, that Arizona is one of 14 states plus Puerto Rico that has recorded its highest seven-day average in Coronavirus cases.
It has come to the point where some hospitals have run out of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Machines (ECMO;) devices that help the lungs fully function.
This at a time when Dr. Cara Christ, the State Health Director, notified hospitals to activate their emergency action plans in case of a coming crisis.
The Governor has not advanced any desire to reclose the state and Legislative District 18 State Senator Sean Bowie, according to the June 8, 2020, Yellow Sheet Report, advised that Mr. Ducey was not very interested at the moment to extend relief measures for people impacted by the Coronavirus or convening a special session to address the issue.
Apparently, the delay has been partially caused by Republicans, not in agreement on the details of a business liability protection bill, a measure that Democrats (whose support is needed in a special session) will not vote for unless there are provisions to protect workers.
Leading Arizona Democrats, many of who sounded the warning about the Governor (with the direct support of Mr. Trump) prematurely opening the state, have voiced and written their views on the recent setbacks for the state.
Their reactions are below:
Arizona Democratic Party Chairperson Felecia Rotellini issued a statement which read in part:
“……..While COVID-19 cases are sadly still rising in Yuma and across Arizona, Trump thinks this is a good opportunity to observe the construction of his border wall, once again pandering to his base with fear-mongering and race-baiting. Trump has already notoriously insulted Arizonans by diverting critical funding from Fort Huachuca to appease his on again-off again desires to use the money for his wall.”
“Donald Trump’s visit is the latest stark reminder that he has repeatedly failed Arizonans and our country, creating more crises and solving none of the problems he promised to fix.”
“The facts are clear: Trump ignored public health experts, failed to ramp up production of testing and protective gear, praised China’s response, and repeatedly downplayed risks while Americans got sick and sicker.
“While visiting Arizona in February, Trump downplayed the threat of coronavirus, saying, “I think it’s going to work out fine,” and predicted that April’s “warmer weather” would end the outbreak. We knew it was absurd then, and, today, we know how wrong Trump was.”
“The New York Times recently identified Yuma as number two on a list of the next potential areas for a COVID-19 outbreak. Sadly, last Thursday, Yuma County confirmed another 123 new cases of COVID-19, which brought Yuma’s reported cases to 1,643. Trump’s timing of his visit to Yuma, amidst this pandemic, is another example of the alternative reality that he lives in and his desperation for adulation from supporters who think a border wall will fix a broken immigration system.”
“The speculation alone, as to the reason for his trip, provides the media attention he craves. Perhaps Trump is returning to Arizona in search of that elusive bump in the polls he did not get during his visit last month. Maybe he wants to try and refocus the conversation on his favorite scapegoat — immigration since it has fallen from Arizonans’ interest amidst the ongoing crises facing the nation. Or, maybe, he is having the RNC scout Arizona as a location for its convention out of fear that he may lose this state in November. For sure, the President is just so out of touch that he thinks this is a good time to observe his wall while Americans suffer.”
“Whatever the reason for the visit, it’s another opportunity for Arizonans to shake their heads in disbelief that we could have a President of the United States of America who has nothing else to do but galavant around the country and stare at a wall while Americans suffer from two of the worst crises of our lifetimes: one we have never experienced before, COVID-19, and one that has plagued us for centuries, racism. November cannot come soon enough.”
Representative Ann Kirkpatrick posted on Facebook
“Even though Arizona is opening up, we can’t ignore that COVID-19 is spreading FAST. We need more resources: testing, tracing, hospital beds, PPE. We need a national and state-wide plan NOW.”
Legislative District 18 State House Representative Jennifer Jermaine responding to a request for comment from Blog For Arizona:
“I spoke directly with Banner’s Vice President, Government Relations yesterday. They are caring for about half of the COVID-19 patients in hospitals.”
“Being prudent about wearing masks, washing hands, and keeping six feet of space around you in public areas will help slow the spread. We can do all of these things while continuing to re-open Arizona’s economy.”
“Hospitalizations are rising and we need to make sure we don’t overwhelm our health care system.”
Representative Ruben Gallego posted on Facebook:
“As Arizona passes the grim milestone of 1,000 COVID-19 deaths with more than 1,500 new cases in a single day, it is important to emphasize that our state is still in the midst of a pandemic and experiencing a growing public health emergency.”
“I urge everyone to please follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including practicing social distancing, wearing a mouth and nose covering when around others, washing your hands often and staying home when possible.”
“We must continue working together to stop the spread of COVID-19. We must all work together to protect ourselves, our frontline workers, and our state’s particularly vulnerable citizens, including the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.”
Senate Candidate Captain Mark Kelly issued several statements on Facebook:
“The spike in COVID-19 cases here in Arizona is a reminder that this pandemic is not over, and we must continue following the latest CDC guidelines, including washing our hands frequently, social distancing, and wearing face coverings whenever possible.”
“This week, Yuma County reported its highest daily number of coronavirus cases. This virus is still hitting our state, and we need to work together to stop its spread.”
“The surge of COVID-19 cases in parts of Arizona is a reminder that we are still in the middle of a public health crisis. If you’ve been wondering how you can help, this page from the Arizona Department of Health Services has the answers on everything from volunteering at a local food bank to donating blood.”
Congressional District Six Candidate Anita Malik posted on Facebook:
“There is so much to be said about the failures of leadership we are seeing. We are moving backward when we could’ve been proactive.”
“This can’t be said enough right now … PLEASE remain safe, remain vigilant.”
“Doug Ducey put up barbed wire faster than he acted for our health. He denies the trends, but we must not ignore the facts.”
“Our health and our recovery depend on all of us staying safe. Wash your hands, wear a mask, and stay home if you can.”
“WE are the leaders our community needs. #StaySafe”
Congressional Six Candidate Dr. Hiral Tipirneni posted on Facebook:
Highest # of intubations
ECMO machines at capacity
“This is what happens when you don’t #FlattentheCurve. We are increasing the burden on our healthcare system resources to the point of maximal use.”
“We’re here, Governor Doug Ducey.
How much more do you need to see??”
Congressional District Eight Candidate Bob Musselwhite, responding to a request for a quote from Blog For Arizona, stated:
” A snapshot for today June 7th shows that we were the state with the second-highest number of new Covid19 cases in the country. California with a much larger population is first. It appears that overall the death rate is five to six percent of those contracting the illness. Our state is known for its retirement communities. The thought of Covid19 being embedded and out of control in our state should scare any official that is interested in preserving one of the most important industries in our state”
Maricopa County Board of Supervisor District Two Candidate Deedra Abboud, responding to a request for a quote from Blog For Arizona, stated:
“The increased Covid-19 spread in Arizona was predictable. In fact, several medical and science experts predicted it.”
“Utilizing abandoned hospital buildings and erecting field hospitals to increase ICU bed capacity sounds like a great idea until you find out we neither have the critical care equipment nor the medical staff to cover those beds.”
“The need for personal protection equipment (PPE), extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), and Dialysis machines for those with severe cases of COVID-19 was foreseeable.”
“For months the equipment shortages and critical care decisions were widely and visually reported during the carnage in Italy, then Washington, then New York and California.”
“Yet, our elected officials chose not to prepare the equipment and staffing necessary for the viral spread in our largest and most populated county.”
“Not before we were hit, while we were under the weeks-long stay at home order, or even after we were all told to go back to normal.”
“Meanwhile, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has only spent nine million dollars of the $398 million it received directly from the CARES Act … with only a small portion spent on PPE and no mention of ECMO or Dialyses machines.”
Pima County Board of Supervisor District Five Candidate Adelita Grijalva, responding to a request for a quote from Blog For Arizona, stated:
“As the number of positive COVID-19 cases rises throughout Arizona, we should all be incredibly concerned. We have significant issues with the lack of testing, contact tracing, and guidelines from our Governor. On May 15, our State was supposed to begin “re-opening” at Stage 1. Unfortunately, many of the members of our community, after being quarantined, acted as if the crisis was over. Almost immediately, social distancing and masks were a thing of the past. A recent report showed the Yuma doubled the number of those affected with COVID in one week. TUSD was scheduling a 2020 Graduation ceremony and were prohibited because the Pima County Health Department is projecting a spike in cases next week. Our hospitals are reporting concerns about capacity and schools have been instructed to make plans to welcome our students to school the first week of August. We have to change our behavior, limit outings, and stop behaving as if everything is back to normal. This pandemic is not over and we can’t pretend as if it is.”
Legislative District Eight State House Candidate Sharon Girard, a physicians assistant, posted on Facebook:
“People are playing fast and free ignoring social isolation while we are out of ICU beds and ECMO in AZ. Everyone is focused on COVID deaths but what you need to think more about is what happens if you live. If you go to the ICU and survive what will your life be like after you leave? I’ll tell you, possibly not the same. Our lungs hate ventilators and become permanently scarred from ventilation. It’s called pulmonary fibrosis. It never heals. Think about this. You are a healthy 70-year-old. You bike, play pickleball and softball and love to dine out. With fibrosis, those athletic days are over.”
“Most people who get to go home do so on oxygen, blood thinners, and many on dialysis because there is a lot of kidney damage. Many places put these people in skilled nursing facilities. They don’t go home. And many never go home. They just don’t just die in the hospital. I’m hearing this from doctors on the frontlines. I’m not making this up. I’m trying to sound the alarm. Granted, it’s not everyone. 25% are asymptomatic, 50% are mild which means you stay home with a fever and feel awful for days or weeks but eventually get better. About 25% goes to the hospital and about 10% of those are really bad. You take your chances. It’s up to you but you deserve to know what will really happen. And it happens to all ages. We are also seeing people who come in with a stroke only and its COVID. Or abdominal pain only and it’s COVID. You can have a blood clot in your abdomen. Did you know that? And they keep getting these clots even on blood thinners. It’s frustrating the hell out of doctors.”
“Yes, more over the age of 65 is in ICU but also healthy teens and middle age. We still don’t know why. POC increasingly affected but more because they have essential jobs and are working out in the public. #stayhomestaysafe. It may save your life. At the very least, it may save your lungs. #wearamask”
Gunnery Sergeant JoAnna Mendoza, a candidate for the State Senate in Legislative District 11, responding to a request for a quote from Blog For Arizona, stated:
“Since Governor Ducey’s stay-at-home order was lifted, we’ve seen a concerning rise in COVID-19 cases. Over 1,000 Arizonans have already died from this virus. Our hospitals are nearing capacity for ICUs and the availability of other medical supplies isn’t even being reported. Elected officials have a duty to be transparent with the people they are supposed to serve.”
“Many of our elected leaders have failed to uphold this responsibility and their failure is costing lives.”
“We the People” should be able to trust that our elected leaders will provide information and honest updates that benefit the public, help us address the issue, and find effective solutions. Withholding information that should be a matter of public knowledge is deceptive and wrong.”
“There is a moral aspect of leadership that seems to be missing in many of our current elected officials. They should be using their office to help those they serve, not maintaining their own political power. As our state continues to reopen, this concerning trend for COVID-19 infections and deaths is likely to continue. Especially during times of crisis like this, we need elected leaders who we can trust to do the right thing and protect those they serve.”
The other Democratic candidate for the LD 11 Senate Seat Linda Patterson, responding to a request for a quote from Blog for Arizona, wrote:
“As I consume the most recent information on the continued spread of COVID-19 in Arizona, I am left to wonder why our present state leadership is not doing a better job of clearly communicating that we are in the midst of a global pandemic that is increasing in numbers and adversely affecting Arizonans throughout our state. We have not come close to flattening the curve and that fact does not appear to be important enough to our leaders to highlight that fact for our residents on a daily basis.”
“In my mind, it is the duty of these officials to be open and honest about community spread and to highlight the seriousness of its prevalence to our citizens in the same manner that other state officials have done throughout the nation. To hear the announcement only yesterday that hospital beds for treatment of COVID-19 patients is maxed-out throughout the state is also disconcerting. Where is the sense of urgency that can provide our residents with timely stated information regarding what is actually occurring?”
“Ensuring public health is a state government responsibility. Transparency is necessary and is an obligation of the government to share information with citizens. The Arizona Republic requested -but was not granted- an interview with theDepartment of Health Service just a few days ago.”
“If our press cannot access public officials just what is that communicating to us?”
“We must do better! It is time for our outcry of accountability for the officials who appear to be disregarding the importance of communicating the urgency and reality of the moment.”
“Public trust is essential in our democracy. I promise I will do all I can to ensure that openness, honesty, transparency, and accountability will be values I will always hold at the forefront of my heart and mind while representing your needs in the state senate. Trust between you and me is essential.”
Suzanne Hug, a candidate for the State House from Legislative District 25, responding to a request for a quote from Blog For Arizona, stated:
“I’m disappointed in the GOP led reckless free for all opening in Arizona. The numbers are proving that opening mid-May was far too early. I see this as confirmation we need to follow CDC guidelines, including those to prevent putting our kids and families at risk in the fall for school. One of my priorities along with school funding will be expanding broadband to all students in Arizona so that distance learning can happen safely for the students and the educators. We need big, bold solutions to protect public health and keep our state going strong.”
Governor Ducey and his team ignored the science and medical projections and, bowing in part to pressure from the fringe and corporate elements in his party, prematurely reopened the state after showing sound judgment on protecting the citizens of the state in March and April.
Mass social distancing has not occurred in most public gathering locations since the state reopened and the situation may become increasingly aggravated due to the last two weeks of protests (although to be fair, most of the protestors seem to have been wearing masks.)
Mr. Ducey needs to go back to the mindset he had in the early spring, institute safety procedures that protect Arizonans, and hopefully, put the COVID 19 genie back in the lamp.
Please continue to follow the social distance and safety guidelines echoed by many of the people cited in this piece.
Stay safe and well.