A few days ago, on June 10, Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-7), sent a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey asking, in more polite ways than I ever could, WTF are you doing to address the unsustainable increase in Covid cases in the state, which have nearly doubled in the last two weeks?
I am concerned that your administration has recently failed to underscore the seriousness of the growing public health emergency that our state is experiencing with COVID-19 …
“Clearly, Arizona is going in the wrong direction,” he emphasized. Read the letter here: hospitalizations, positive percentages, ER visits, ventilator use, deaths; we’re at the wrong end of those numbers, no matter how much spin one applies. And it’s only getting worse. The Congressman ends with a challenge: “What does your administration plan to do about it?”
Rep. Gallego and the rest of us found out the next day, when Gov. Ducey held a press conference to discuss plans to address the state’s frightening infection rates, where each day seems to set a new record. Will Arizona follow Oregon and other states and pause reopening? No, that’s not being considered. Will Arizona require masks in stores and other public spaces? No, not an option, because the Governor went to Walgreen’s and saw most people wearing masks (which is not the case). Will Ducey even talk to mayors in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff, or let them set their own policies? Why start now?
When pressed to name one specific thing that the administration will do differently, because what they’re doing clearly isn’t working, they offered zip, zilch, nada. That was the answer to Rep. Gallego’s question, “What does your administration plan to do about it?”
All Ducey and Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said, over and over, was: “Our number one concern is the safety of the people of Arizona,” or “We’re testing more so we’ll see more positives,” or “We’re monitoring the situation closely,” or “We expected a spike when we opened up,” as if expectations excuse the deaths.
Ducey said the horror-show national headlines about Arizona are filled with “misinformation.” However, when presented with data from those national stories, he pointed out little that was wrong, except to note that not every ICU bed is in use. Some hospitals still have capacity, so why worry?
Again, [writes Ed Montini in the Arizona Republic] there’s that message: You’re probably going to get sick but, hey, we have beds! Call me crazy, but I thought the idea was to try to prevent as many people as possible from getting sick.
It was a little more than a month ago, when Trump visited a Phoenix mask factory and toured the facility unmasked, that he was starting to grill governors to open their states, in defiance of his own CDC guidelines. A businessman and chamber of commerce bootlicker in Trump’s mold, Gov. Ducey crawled way up the President’s ass and used his visit to announce that Arizona would open lots more shit sooner than planned, even though the state had not met any CDC benchmarks.
I said at the time that we’d look back at Trump’s visit as the start of a terrible unpleasantness, and I wish that prediction had been wrong. I only underestimated. Monday’s headline in The Arizona Republic continued a terrible trend: ICU Bed Use, ER Visits Hit New Highs for Arizona Covid 19 Cases. [UPDATE Tuesday: Arizona reported a record-high 2,392 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday.] But don’t worry, the Governor is “monitoring” stuff and remains “concerned.”
Before Trump’s visit Gov. Ducey had generally earned favorable reviews for his response to the crisis. Today, not so much, and his presidential suck-up started the slide, a mirror image of the virus’s surge. The Governor has company: Trump is down 5 points to Biden in Arizona, and Senate candidate Martha McSally is losing by double digits to Democrat Mark Kelly.
News stories here occasionally link the Governor’s legacy to this moment. When Rick Wilson updates his book, Everything Trump Touches Dies, he’ll have to make space for Ducey’s legacy and that of the Arizona GOP.