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Star Editorial Board: Arizona Gov. Ducey must issue 'stay-at-home' order to slow coronavirus
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Star Editorial Board: Arizona Gov. Ducey must issue 'stay-at-home' order to slow coronavirus

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The following is the analysis and opinion of the Arizona Daily Star's Editorial Board:

It is time for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to do what other states have already done: Issue the stay-at-home order.

His refusal to act comprehensively puts Arizonans in danger. He should heed the words of Cara Christ, the interim director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, who followed him at the podium at a briefing Wednesday afternoon:

“As you know, Arizona is still in the opening stages of its COVID-19 outbreak and the number of cases within the state will increase significantly,” Christ said. “COVID-19 is highly contagious, serious and in some cases fatal.”

The time to act is now.

Instead, Ducey signed an executive order Monday that prohibits local governments from making their own decisions about how to keep communities safe amid the coronavirus spread and lists a raft of services deemed “essential” that provokes serious worry that state leadership is putting economic concerns above saving lives.

Gov. Ducey must not succumb to President Trump’s fantasy thinking that the country can be safely “opened up and raring to go” by Easter, which this year is April 12. Leadership requires helping people cope with hard reality, not spinning tales of false and dangerous optimism.

As wrenching as it will be, our economy can and will heal. The same can’t be said for many people with COVID-19.

Communities must have the freedom to make our own decisions, and Tucson is a prime example. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero acted decisively when it became clear how quickly and easily this dangerous virus spreads: She ordered closed restaurant dining rooms, bars and other public gathering places. It wasn’t a popular decision, but it has proved prescient.

Ducey must lift the restrictions placed on municipalities. 

When faced with a public health emergency that unfolds as quickly as the coronavirus has, local elected leaders must not have their hands tied by the state, as Ducey’s order does by stating that “no county, city or town may make or issue any order, rule or regulation that restricts or prohibits any person from performing any function designated by the Governor, the Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, or the Division of Emergency Management as an essential function during the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

About that list of “essential services.” It is far too broad and begs the question of what, in a time of crisis in Arizona, is not considered an essential service?

For example, take “personal hygiene services” — a description we couldn’t find defined in Arizona Revised Statutes, so perhaps it means care-taking tasks like helping a person bathe or maybe it means getting a manicure.

Clearly, one of those services is more essential than the other.

Locally, nonprofit and human services organizations are joining together to support the call for a stay-at-home order. Eric Schindler of Child and Family Resources shared this statement:

“Human Services and other non-profit organizations across the state are on the front lines of serving Arizona’s most vulnerable residents. During this pandemic, we are operating in new, creative, virtual and innovative ways to help meet the needs of children, families and seniors across the state. We know firsthand the struggles people have to survive even in good times, and even more so now during the time of COVID-19.

“However, we have come to realize that the best way to truly advance our missions is for Arizona to flatten the curve to ensure our health care system and social safety net do not implode. It is clear to us that ordering Arizonans to shelter in place would be the most important and effective strategy for restricting the spread of COVID-19. Shelter in place must be mandated immediately in order to make the long-term difference we all desire.

"That is why the human services and non-profit sectors are calling for the Governor to implement a shelter-in-place order immediately.”

In the meantime, Arizonans shouldn’t wait for Gov. Ducey to make it official: Do what the experts tell us to do and stay at home.

The Star's Editorial Board operates separately from the news department and is comprised of President and Publisher John D'Orlando, Editor Jill Jorden Spitz, Opinion editor Sarah Garrecht Gassen and Opinion writer Edward Celaya. Cartoonist David Fitzsimmons is not part of the Editorial Board.

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