Ducey didn’t lower charges, Arizonans did
Since Arizona leaders began shutting down businesses and public facilities five months ago, the state has seen the rise and fall of COVID-19 infections.
Arizona’s Rt, or transmission rate, has been below 1.0 since June 24 and has been the lowest in the country almost consistently since mid-July.
The rate of newly reported daily cases – 500 to 700 – has dropped to an average we had in late May. Arizona’s peak of new daily cases was 5,484 on June 27, and the peak of deaths in a single day was weeks later at 97 on July 17.
One could argue that mask mandates reduce the spread, but if you compare areas like Sedona, Flagstaff, Cottonwood, and Clarkdale that have mask mandates with nearby areas that don’t, like Camp Verde, Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Yavapai Counties without them own legal personality, these infection rates are at eye level. It would therefore be imprecise to make this claim.
Even so, there are many people in areas where masks are required who, cannot, or will not, or simply wear poorly, do not wear masks. Likewise, there are many people in areas without mask mandates who have been wearing them and have had them for months.
Outside of laboratory conditions, it would be impossible to take an objective measurement to account for all of the other factors and vectors affecting this strategy.
Although masks prevent the spread of already infected people to others, they also give a false psychological feeling of security, even if the masks they wear are ineffective or poorly worn.
More likely is the fact that people choose to distance themselves socially and avoid public places. Grocery stores and wholesalers have reported a decline in sales, partly due to people spending less time in required stores and avoiding others when they can get the same products online or through an off-site pickup.
However, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey wasted no time claiming that his actions as governor had a profound effect on the spread of the state. Ducey really didn’t do anything useful, however. Ducey issued an order suggesting people stay home in April but failed to give him teeth and picked it up 30 days later when it was not a magical cure, caused more economic damage than medical good and than the political heat “To do something, anything”. evaporates.
During that shutdown, Ducey did nothing to increase the number of tests or secure medical equipment, did not increase the number of contact tracers, and did not require Arizona state law to increase unemployment benefits to help working-class Arizonans – especially those in the service industry who see hundreds of customers every day – could afford to stay home and avoid public contact.
The only act Ducey advocates is to decide to commission masks, but he really did not issue such an order, instead delegating it to local officials so he could avoid the responsibility of annoying people for or against masks while taking out credit if masks reduced the spread.
He issued the order on June 17, but the daily infections continued to increase for two and a half weeks.
Closing certain types of businesses to protect public health seems insincere even when other identical businesses can remain open.
Ducey closed bars, theaters, water parks, and river tubes because Phoenix television stations cited large crowds in those locations in news criticizing the governor’s inaction.
Of these, the river hose is perhaps the most absurd because the governor’s subsequent action did not prevent wholesale activity, only the companies that operate hose operations. A group of friends could still drive into the Salt River and be picked up downstream. Plus, if tubers are within six feet of another group of strangers roaming down the river, they’re doing it wrong.
It also seems absurd for Ducey to close two types of bars while the restaurants stay open to hundreds of exposed, possibly asymptomatic people a day. Guests cannot go to a bar and order a drink as it poses a fatal health risk. However, you can go to a restaurant, sit at an identical bar and order a drink.
The decision to close bars was purely political for Ducey and had absolutely nothing to do with the actual conditions at these facilities and their analogues.
Without control conditions in a scientific study, it is impossible to determine whether a certain measure or tactic will lower the infection rate. Rather, it is a mix of all of these methods combined with human behavior that has likely lowered our state’s infection rates.
To quote Ducey’s tired, overused, predictable, and meaningless stereotype, “This is not a winning lap,” but whatever tactic the Arizonans use, they seem to work. So stay on course.
Christopher Fox Graham