Amid Surging Outbreak, Arizona Congressman Calls for Disbanding COVID-19 Task Force

Congressman Andy Biggs
Congressman Andy Biggs Gage Skidmore

Amidst the worsening COVID-19 outbreak, Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs is calling for the federal coronavirus task force to be disbanded.

In a statement issued on July 2, Biggs, a Republican who represents the state's 5th Congressional District and a staunch ally of President Trump, celebrated new employment numbers released by the U.S. Department of Labor showing that the economy added 4.8 million jobs in June and that the unemployment rate fell to 11.1 from a reported 13 percent in May. Bigg's praised Trump's handling of the economy and derided federal public health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's COVID-19 response coordinator, for allegedly undermining Trump's messaging on reviving the economy.

He also called for the federal COVID-19 task force to be "disbanded" so that Trump's "message is not mitigated or distorted."

“After two months of economic nightmares due to COVID-19 and our states’ reactions to the outbreak, the American economy is roaring back as we predicted," Biggs said. "The fundamentals of our economy were very strong prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the pro-growth foundation that President Trump set over the past 3+ years is paying dividends in one of our nation’s most-uncertain times."

click to enlarge ASU modeling shows the number of available hospital beds steadily shrinking. - ASU BIODESIGN INSTITUTE
ASU modeling shows the number of available hospital beds steadily shrinking.
ASU Biodesign Institute
"As our economy is restored, it is imperative that President  Trump is not undermined in his mission to return our economy to greatness. Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx continue to contradict many of President Trump’s stated goals and actions for returning to normalcy as we know more about the COVID-19 outbreak," he added. "This is causing panic that compromises our economic recovery. We can protect our most vulnerable from the COVID-19 outbreak while still protecting lives and livelihoods of the rest of the population. It’s time for the COVID-19 task force to be disbanded so that President Trump’s message is not mitigated or distorted.”

The statements come as Arizona continues to report record-breaking daily numbers of new COVID-19 cases, an estimated 89 percent of Intensive Care Unit beds statewide are in use, ventilator usage continues to climb, and the percentage of tests coming back positive is also on the rise — an indicator of the worsening outbreak. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who once championed quickly reopening the state, reversed course on Monday and shut down numerous businesses, including bars and gyms, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. As of July 2, 1,757 people in Arizona have died from COVID-19, while 87,425 cases have been recorded statewide.

Biggs, a two-term congressman, is up for reelection this year. Democratic challenger, Joan Greene, who will face off against two other Democrats in the August 4 primary, told Phoenix New Times that she is "horrified" at his statement, and slammed the comments as "irresponsible" and dangerous given the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in Arizona. She went as far as to claim that Biggs is "killing" his constituents through his messaging on the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It’s irresponsible," Greene told New Times. "He’s past the part of partisan politics. Now he’s killing us and, with every step of the way, he’s becoming a danger to our national security.

"The district that I'm trying to represent that he’s representing now has a very senior population," she added. "You would think that any responsible person would look at the numbers and the facts and say 'we need to do something about that, I represent this group of people, I should protect this group of people.'"
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Josh Kelety is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Inlander and Seattle Weekly.
Contact: Josh Kelety