Office of Arizona State Senator David Bradley (D-AZ-10)
Yesterday Governor Doug Ducey announced that he is letting Arizona’s stay at home order expire on May 15th and allowing gyms and pools to fully reopen. Last week the governor permitted restaurants to resume dine-in service, non-essential retail businesses to reopen, and barbers and salons to reopen.
From the beginning of this crisis Arizona Senate Democrats have emphasized that the virus will be quelled only by complying with science-based practices. The principle of getting control of the virus’ spread is rather simple. You mitigate the contagion until you are able to medicate the virus by treatment and/or vaccine. Public health officials and medical scientists from across the state have made it clear to us that we are nowhere near those medical interventions.
As a result, we remain deeply concerned that the rapid reopening of the state without a more comprehensive plan to support mitigation puts Arizona at an increased risk of second and subsequent waves of infection. Again, it is imperative that we deliberately and comprehensively mitigate until we can medicate for this virus.
We urge caution with a continued focus on listening to health professionals and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations when it comes to reopening Arizona. Arizona is still at the very bottom of states doing testing. We’re gratified to hear, as we have been urging, that there will be more rigorous testing of high risk and vulnerable communities in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and prisons and jails. We remain dismayed that there is still no commitment to share this information with the general public.
We must continue to follow the science and listen to the health professionals. We need more diagnostic testing, antibody testing and expanded capacity for contact tracing. While we are glad we have started the testing blitz across Arizona, we need a plan from the governor's office to demonstrate that more testing will show that downward trend. In order to abate subsequent waves of infection, we have to implement the most cost effective and simple measures, such as, more testing, temperature and health screenings in public areas, drive through testing locations, sanitizing public areas and more.
We know most businesses will operate in good faith and will comply with the Governor's guidelines. Nevertheless, we have concerns that there will be businesses and individuals who will overtly defy the Governor’s recommendations. We’ve already seen incidences of some businesses' noncompliance on the first day that non-essential businesses were given the go-ahead to open. Workplaces are one of the primary vectors of transmission of COVID-19 and it is employers' responsibility to ensure workplaces are safe. We believe that the guidelines the Governor has outlined should be made clearer and at this time should be subject to progressive sanctions from simple warnings to increased fines for deliberate non-compliance.
We understand that every public health decision has an economic impact, but if we hope to do this reopening right, then it is imperative as the Governor has indicated, that it be done with the public’s health as the top priority. In the meantime, we encourage Arizonans to practice social distancing and wearing a mask while in public.
Our society is not strong when we do not care for our brothers and sisters. We must look out for one another and treat a stranger’s health with as much concern as our own. We must remember that the coin of our realm has two sides–Freedom on one side, and Mutual Responsibility on the other. Freedom cannot exist without mutual responsibility toward one another. Let us take care of one another and come out on the other side of this pandemic together.