Arizona lawmaker seeks to end Gov. Ducey's COVID-19 emergency declaration

Michelle Ugenti-Rita and Doug Ducey

A lawmaker is looking 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 deal with Covid-19 in a thoughtful & meaningful way w/o being under a perpetual state of emergency."

Under the declaration of emergency issued in March due to rising COVID-19 cases, Gov. Ducey implemented a stay-at-home order over the summer and either shut down or restricted businesses that were considered to be more likely to spread the virus, including bars, gyms and move theatres.

The resolution filed by the senator argues that the stay-at-home-orders "drastically restricted and suppressed the individual freedoms and economic prosperity of Arizonans," and that the governor "subjected individual citizens to criminal sanctions for noncompliance."

The document also outlined the negative economic impacts of government-imposed social distancing measures, claiming that nearly a fifth of small businesses in Arizona will not return following the shutdown and subsequent restrictions.

Ugenti-Rita argues that Ducey can only proclaim a state of emergency in conditions of disaster and extreme peril, and that Arizona hospitals are equipped to deal with the COVID-19 surge.

"Throughout the duration of the stay-at-home orders...Arizona hospitals have consistently had more than 1,100 available ventilators and have maintained an available bed capacity of over 3,800 total intensive care unit, emergency department and inpatient beds," reads the document.

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

Health officials estimate that Arizona will not be reaching peak cases until late January or early February.

The resolution also noted the negative effects that isolation has had on public health, citing a rise in domestic violence, child abuse and substance abuse cases.

"Arizonans are personally responsible and have exceeded expectations in slowing community spread through their own individual behaviors and actions, accepting personal restrictions as a civic duty to prevent disease transmission," the document read.

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

Read the full resolution here: www.azleg.gov/legtext/55leg/1R/bills/SCR1001P.pdf

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