In the past week, Arizona became the new COVID-19 capital of the world, surpassing Florida and Bahrain for the most new cases per million residents.
While there is certainly some responsibility to be carried by the people who foolishly went out to bars and nightclubs and other crowded areas against all scientific recommendations, the bulk of the blame belongs to Gov. Doug Ducey.
The unfortunate fact of the matter is that Ducey has made the wrong decision at every step of the way in his response to this pandemic. It has become clear that he has no idea what he’s doing.
Ducey’s failed response to the coronavirus outbreak starts in the beginning. Much like President Trump, Ducey either failed to grapple with the severe nature of the virus or outright refused to take it seriously due to some sort of arrogance.
Beyond that, Ducey failed to stand up for his state because it would have put him on the warpath with Trump. Near the end of March, ASU’s own Biodesign Institute was ready to start pumping out test kits at a highly efficient rate, but FDA and CDC regulations prevented those tests from being distributed for nearly a full month. Ducey was silent.
This was around the same time that Wendy Smith-Reeve, Arizona’s emergency management director, stepped down from her position after accusing Ducey of tuning her out in favor of other staffers not qualified to handle these kinds of crises. Smith-Reeve had been with the division of Emergency Management for 24 years, so Ducey’s refusal to listen to her advice speaks volumes.
Then came the shutdown, where everything really went wrong. If Ducey had listened to Smith-Reeve, he’d have known the importance of social distancing and could have begun thinking of ways to incentivize businesses to voluntarily close or limit their in-person operations. Instead, he let things deteriorate to the point where he felt the need to unconstitutionally shut down the state.
Not only was this disastrous for small business owners and the state economy as a whole, but it gave Ducey the authority he would later repurpose to institute a curfew targeting the Black Lives Matter protests. Then, despite having not come close to meeting CDC guidelines for reopening a state, Ducey decided to allow businesses to reopen after realizing how poorly the economy had been affected.
Of course, this had tricked Arizonans into thinking it was safe to go out again. The government shut the state down in the name of protecting everyone, so if they’re reopening now it must be safe, right?
You can argue that people should have been vigilant and researched the actual case numbers on their own, and you’d be right to make such an argument, but there’s something to be said about being directly misled by our government. Now there are more shutdowns, but they’re not consistent: Bars and gyms aren’t safe but restaurants are? There is no logic, no rhyme or reason, behind Ducey’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. There never was.
Now, as the new academic year approaches, ASU students are grappling with the reality that they may have to spend the entire semester online, but the University has said in-person will still happen despite rising cases. Who knows how that may impact individual students and majors dependent on in-person participation? And the newest requirement from ICE turns this new reality into a very real threat to not only their continued education, but their very livelihoods.
There's no other way to put it: Ducey has failed us all.
Editor’s Note: The opinions presented in this letter to the editor are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. This letter to the editor was submitted by David Howman, the President of the College Libertarians and a master's student studying justice studies.
Reach the author at David.Howman@asu.edu.
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