Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey: Arizonans Must Learn To Live With The Coronavirus

By Ben Giles, Lauren Gilger
Published: Thursday, June 11, 2020 - 6:43pm
Updated: Friday, June 12, 2020 - 11:56am

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Gov. Doug Ducey
Howard Fisher/Capitol Media Services
Gov. Doug Ducey discusses the latest trends in the spread of COVID-19 in Arizona on June 11, 2020.

Arizonans need to learn to live with the coronavirus, Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday.

The governor responded to local and national reports warning of Arizona’s rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations by focusing on the state’s hospital capacity, and claiming the opinion of outside experts was misinformed. 

“This virus is not going away. There’s not a cure for this virus, and there’s not a vaccine for this virus,” Ducey told reporters. “So this virus is something we need to learn to live with, and we need to make sure that we are protecting the most vulnerable in our society.”

As of Thursday, Ducey said Arizona hospitals have enough beds to treat patients, those with the coronavirus or any other illness. The announcement comes as hospitals reported exceeding 80% capacity for two consecutive days, according to the Department of Health Services.

To bolster his argument, Ducey pointed to a statement from the Health System Alliance of Arizona — released shortly before the governor’s weekly press conference — in which organizations including Banner Health and Dignity Health said they are “well prepared” to manage an increasing number of hospitalizations.

“That’s what’s most important when there is a rise in cases,” Ducey said. “Because a rise in cases could result in a rise of severe illness that requires hospitalization. I want every Arizonan to be able to have the medical care and comfort and resources necessary and today we are able to provide that.”

Dr. Cara Christ, the state’s health director, added that the virus is here to stay, and Arizonans must adjust accordingly.

“We know that it’s in the community. We are not going to be able to stop the spread. And so we can’t stop living as well,” Christ said.

Those comments come amid criticism of Ducey’s efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

The governor said Thursday that he supports Arizonans wearing face masks, at least when they’re unable to keep a safe physical distance from others. Ducey’s specific mention of masks is a departure from his past advice at press conferences. 

State officials plan to launch a mask awareness campaign next week.

But Ducey said further action, such as issuing requirements, rather than recommendations, for social distancing or implementing a second stay-at-home order, are not under discussion.

Ducey also won’t allow local governments to implement their own restrictions on municipal residents that exceed recommendations the governor has issued statewide.

“I continue to believe that the government closest to the people is best, except during a pandemic,” Ducey said.

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