Ducey Emphasizes Personal Responsibility, Dodges Trump Rally Questions

Gov. Ducey implored the public to stay home if possible.
Gov. Ducey implored the public to stay home if possible. Press Conference Live Stream
Governor Doug Ducey implored the public in his latest televised address to stay home if possible, and to wear a mask when social distancing was not possible.

"This virus is everywhere," he said. "It's likely in this room right now."

Ducey's remarks come as Arizona's COVID-19 numbers reach record highs and hospitals are feeling the strain.

Maricopa County reached a record 36,890 cases, the county reported on Thursday afternoon, a jump of almost 1,900 from the day before. The cases continue to disproportionately impact Native Americans, African American, and Latino communities.

The governor's tone was much more somber than in past press conferences in which he downplayed increasing numbers while trying to reassure the public. He began his statements with a quote from a National Review article that attributes the outbreak to China's role as a world power: "The COVID-19 pandemic is the single greatest global peacetime catastrophe that humanity has suffered since the end of the Second World War."

However, the governor is not imposing any additional restrictions to limit the spread. He instead emphasized personal responsibility as the key, while acknowledging cases are expected to continue to rise in the next few weeks. He said additional re-opening efforts are on pause.

"If you could do whatever you can in your power to make sure Arizonans hear today, and wake up to tomorrow, and hear for the foreseeable future: You're safer at home. The virus is widespread," Ducey told the media.

He avoided questions about the example he set by attending a crowded rally for President Donald Trump on Tuesday, noting that he did wear a mask at the event.

While the governor is not taking new executive action, he shared a list of eight businesses — called "bad actors" in a PowerPoint slide — getting a final warning from the state liquor board regarding their lack of following social-distancing guidelines.

He and state Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ also denounced the long wait times for COVID-19 testing and getting back test results.

Christ noted that the agency has acquired a new testing machine for Sonora Quest Laboratories. The device will take around two weeks to make a difference, but the state is providing additional testing kits and helping to staff testing locations in the meantime, she said.

Christ emphasized the state is working to expand testing resources in west Phoenix, where some waited up to 13 hours for tests over the weekend. The state is partnering with Chicanos Por La Causa, an organization focused on providing services to Latinos, for contact tracing, she said.

Ducey and Christ both said that hospital capacity is under control and that they are working to ensure ample staffing in hospitals, including moving nurses where necessary.

"If [the worst case scenario] comes our way, we're prepared for it," Ducey said. He maintained that the best course of action was to find a way to live with COVID-19.

"It can't be stopped," he said. "It doesn't go away."

In the meantime, he said, the virus will slow in the next 30 to 40 days, and then Arizona will head in to a second wave.

Below: The businesses named by Ducey as "bad actors:"

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Erasmus Baxter is a staff writer for Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Erasmus Baxter