Arizona Governor Doug Ducey Talks About Pandemic Response To Sean Hannity


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Governor Doug Ducey said on national television last night that his administration was prioritizing “life and livelihood” during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though Arizona ranks high among other states for deaths from the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arizona has recorded nearly 17,600 COVID-19 deaths and the sixth highest death rate in the country during the pandemic. Only 12 other states, including California, Texas, and Florida, reported higher fatalities.

The comments were made during a Fox News town hall on May 26th with Republican governors moderated by Sean Hannity, one of the most bombastic and Trump-supportive commentators on the Conservative network. Ducey, along with Governors Ron DeSantis from Florida and Kristi Noem from South Dakota, praised Hannity for handling the pandemic.

At one point, Hannity Ducey called out and asked how the governor had dealt with Arizona’s “certain challenges during the pandemic”.

Ducey said the state “focused on the vulnerable from the start,” identifying people at high risk for complications from COVID-19, such as the elderly and people with underlying diseases. He then referred to a conference call he attended with other governors where there was a consensus that they would “prioritize life and livelihoods”.

“We would all be wrong on the side of freedom and restricted government. It would be a light touch. We would listen, inform our citizens, trust our citizens,” he said. “I think the Arizonans have common sense.”

In many ways, Ducey arguably approached the pandemic with a “light touch”. He never introduced a nationwide mask mandate, initially prevented local governments from doing so, and then quickly reopened the state last summer, which in some cases led to a spike in the summer, according to some public health experts. Last summer’s dire situation put Arizona in the national spotlight as a COVID-19 hotspot. Ducey also refused to take mitigation measures in bars, restaurants and nightclubs during the winter months when cases were increasing.

Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association and a frequent critic of Ducey’s handling of the pandemic, said Governor Hannity did not exactly lied during town hall but downplayed the loss of life in Arizona based on his decisions.

“He made a value judgment that he wanted to keep the bars, restaurants and nightclub trade going, and that it was okay for older people to lose their lives,” he said. “Many of them were preventable deaths.”

Humble pointed to Washington state, which is similar in population to Arizona but has only recorded 5,722 deaths to date. In particular, unlike Arizona, Washington has rigorously enforced COVID-19 mitigation measures.

“He was basically telling the truth,” said Humble, referring to Ducey’s comments. “He just has a different idea of ​​what success is.”

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Josh Kelety works for Phoenix New Times. He previously worked as a reporter for The Inlander and Seattle Weekly.

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