In a united front not seen in recent legislative sessions, Arizona legislators passed a $55 million Anti Coronavirus measure.
Governor Ducey has signed the measure into law.
The first five million dollars is for immediate utilization by the Arizona Department of Health Services to combat the Coronavirus. The other $55 million is for future needs should they arise.
There has been bipartisan acclaim for the measure from Arizona Legislators.
Republican District 23 State Representative John Kavanagh said:
“I am also pleased that we have erred on the side of over-appropriation, because, with something like this, you can never be too safe,”
Democrats like District Nine State Representative (and fellow Blogger) Pamela Powers Hanely praised the legislation but, along with other concerned Democrats, called for a special session to discuss how to spend the $55 million to fight the coronavirus.
Advocates and Democratic Candidates for the Legislature also voiced their views on the Anti Coronavirus legislation and called for additional action.
Former Democratic Leader and head of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress David Lujan commented:
“It was great to see the legislature take quick, bipartisan action to make those funds available. Now I hope they will take a similar approach to the state budget. Instead of passing tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, they should be using those revenues on strategic investments that will help low and moderate-income Arizonans manage the health and financial hardships that will come with the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Arizona Legislative District Six Senate Candidate Colonel Felicia French wrote:
“As a nurse and former Army Medical Commander, I’ve seen how early diagnosis and prevention are critical to treating disease before it becomes deadly and too expensive to manage. To slow the spread of the Coronavirus, we must provide free testing for anyone showing symptoms. I also fully support paid sick and family leave, so people don’t have to choose between a paycheck and their health, or compromising the health of others. Moreover, working families who don’t always know when their next meal is coming will face extra stress with this pandemic; funding is critical to ensure they don’t go hungry.”
Eighth District State House Democratic Candidate Sharon Girard said:
“I am a retired Emergency and Primary Care Physician Assistant. I am honored to have been invited to join and am now a member of a private MD/APP (advanced practice provider) FB group which has 66,094 members from all over the country. I have been keeping close tabs on national and state issues. Doctors from all over the US are posting their questions, concerns and shared experiences. The takeaway from this is we are in a “learning phase” which is ongoing. Remember, this is a “novel” virus, which means it’s new and no one has immunity. We are learning as we go. Even providers who care for patients in the ICU have questions and are learning. We are all test cases for now and in uncharted territory.
We have made a good first start in AZ but will need to do much more. We need to set up testing centers and drive-through options. We need to have a good general plan for our small towns. Tomorrow, in my gated active adult community, I have convened an Emergency Plan Taskforce meeting. We need to be proactive.”
“My concerns are for the rural communities. My district, LD8, has many small towns quite a drive from a hospital or even a clinic. Broadband is not good and the internet is spotty. Telehealth is not a good option for right now. Communities such as Kearny, Superior, Hayden, Winkelman, and Dudleyville are isolated. We need to take mitigation seriously because we are in for quite a ride. And these communities need to take social distancing seriously. We have many more decisions ahead in Arizona. Schools need to close and people need to isolate. This will not be over in weeks but in months. Our lawmakers and health experts need to make plans now. Keep calm and stay focused. And don’t hoard supplies. Remember your neighbors need stuff too.”
Seth Blattman, the Democratic Senate Candidate for Legislative District 23 relayed:
“I applaud the legislature for taking this action in the interest of public health. And for Governor Ducey in declaring a state of emergency days before the federal government did. However, I can’t help but think we are still in a position of being ‘reactive’ to the situation at hand. Private companies were sending their workers home and large events were shutting down well before receiving direction from their government. Even now individual schools and individual restaurants must make a decision on their own, without any guidance. There is a time for leadership and if you’re showing that leadership after everyone else has already gone one direction then you are following, not leading.”
Legislative District Ten House Candidate Paul Stapleton-Smith wrote:
“Regarding the $55 million dollar appropriation for COVID-19 response from the state, we must consider this: We need a new, common sense and coherent public health plan that Arizona voters can understand. We need to know what a statewide comprehensive approach to testing, treatment and those projected costs are. Until then, it’s like a paper umbrella in a rainstorm—it may help keep someone dry for a while, but what about the rest of us? What we deserve is a plan that is at a scale that protects us all, and a funding commitment to match that. Can every citizen that medically requires it a COVID-19 test get one? Will that test bankrupt financially fragile households? Expanding state Medicaid for every person without health insurance is going to cost more than $55 million.”
“We need more than a gesture of assistance to our flimsy, chronically underfunded public health system. We need public health experts to tell us what we need, and how much that costs. We need leaders that will explain that to us, in language that we can understand. We have families that we are responsible for, and for many of us, very tough decisions to make very soon.”
“We also deserve an economic plan that keeps our citizens secure in their homes, keeps food in their cupboards, and keeps the electricity and water on if and when they lose their jobs, or have their paychecks reduced by at-will employers that are already threatening layoffs. Without union contracts and paid family and sick leave, health insurance is imperiled for huge numbers of our citizens. A good public health plan must have a good economic protection plan—they cannot be considered in isolation.”
“This pandemic is the critical lesson we must learn: It’s time to expand our state Medicaid plan to include every citizen without health insurance immediately. The consequences of failure will be devastating.”
The $55 million unanimous bipartisan measure to combat the coronavirus is an excellent first step, a deposit from which future actions need to follow.
Like the federal measures passed at the national level, people need to realize, like some of the individuals who responded for this piece, that more will need to be done to help Arizonans ward off the virus and emerge relatively unscathed from any economic hardships this crisis may cause.
Hopefully, this unanimous bipartisan unity with regards to the Coronavirus will continue at the State Capitol in the coming weeks.