The Arizona legislature wants to end Governor Ducey’s COVID-19 emergency declaration

Michelle Ugenti-Rita and Doug Ducey

A legislature wants to end Gov. Doug Ducey’s statewide emergency declaration when the Arizona legislature reconvenes in January 2021, according to legislative documents filed Dec. 16.

Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a Republican member of the Arizona State Senate, announced the move on Twitter, writing, “We can tackle Covid-19 in a thoughtful and meaningful way without being in an ongoing state of emergency.”

Under the emergency statement issued in March due to increasing COVID-19 cases, Governor Ducey issued a stay-at-home order in the summer and closed or restricted businesses believed to be more likely to spread the virus, including bars, gyms, and moving halls .

The resolution submitted by the senator states that the custodial orders “have drastically restricted and suppressed the individual freedoms and economic prosperity of Arizonans” and that the governor has “subjected individual citizens to criminal penalties for non-compliance.”

The document also outlined the negative economic impact of government-imposed social distancing measures, claiming that nearly one-fifth of Arizona’s small businesses will not return after the shutdown and subsequent restrictions.

Ugenti-Rita argues that Ducey can only declare a state of emergency in circumstances of disaster and extreme danger, and that Arizona hospitals are equipped to handle the COVID-19 spike.

“Throughout the stay-at-home orders … hospitals in Arizona have consistently had more than 1,100 available ventilators and maintained an available bed capacity of more than 3,800 total intensive care, emergency department and clinical beds,” the document reads.

Hospital officials in Arizona have warned they would reach 100% IC capacity by December 15 and 125% capacity by December 18. Valleywise Health reached capacity Tuesday, but reported they had three beds available by December 16. There are 9% of ICU beds available in the state, according to AZDHS.

Health officials estimate that Arizona won’t reach peak rates until late January or early February.

The resolution also pointed to the negative effects that isolation has had on public health, citing an increase in cases of domestic violence, child abuse and substance abuse.

“Arizonans are personally responsible and have exceeded expectations by slowing the spread of the community through their own individual behaviors and actions, accepting personal limitations as a civic duty to prevent disease transmission,” the document said.

The State Department of Health Services reported 4,848 additional known COVID-19 cases and 108 deaths on Dec. 16, bringing the state’s total to 429,219 cases and 7,530 deaths.

Read the full resolution here:

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