Schools in Cochise County are at the front line of the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases. Officials in Sierra Vista, Willcox, Bisbee and Douglas have announced outbreaks among students have forced the closure of schools.
With that in mind, we support state schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman’s call for stepping up protocols aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
Monday, Arizona’s top education official issued a tweet urging Gov. Doug Ducey to institute steps to address the dramatic statewide increase in COVID-19 cases. Cochise County is near the 600 mark in active cases — there were less than 20 in September — and earlier this week, Arizona reported among its highest daily totals since the pandemic reached its record peak in July.
Even with a vaccine on the horizon, it would be prudent for Ducey to act now to slow the rapidly increasing spread of the contagion and re-create awareness of its dangers. Hoffman recommended a statewide mask mandate, a pause in winter sports, quarantine and testing requirements for seasonal residents, limits on social gatherings and expanded outdoor dining.
None of the steps called for by the Superintendent would seriously impact the state’s economy, which appears to be Ducey’s primary concern based on recent public remarks. It’s also “post-election,” and the political fallout from taking more aggressive steps to stem the spread should be minimal compared to the state’s angry temperament prior to Nov. 3 when voters went to the polls. At the moment, Republicans, who led the vocal assault against Ducey in June after earlier executive orders closed businesses are consumed with attempting to overturn election results.
November begins the “snowbird” season in Arizona, offering respite to winter-weary residents of cold climate states. A study conducted by Arizona State University about 10 years ago showed that the population expanded by approximately 300,000 visitors who stayed five-to-six months out of the year. That number may increase this year as people gravitate to a state conducive to outdoor activities in warmer weather, offering both comfort and a measure of safety.
Doing nothing at this moment will assure the continued spread of the coronavirus.
Casual adherence to social protocols is proving ineffective in preventing the resurgence of COVID-19 and it’s time for Ducey to remind residents of the importance of wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, staying home if you are sick, and avoiding venues that gather more than 10 people in a single place.
We’ve supported the governor’s handling of the pandemic and his resolve in the face of opposition from within his own political party. It’s understandable that after eight months of this pandemic, people are tired of hearing the rhetoric and exhausted from following the necessary protocols.
It is imperative that Gov. Ducey step forward now, during this resurgence in COVID-19, to remind and encourage Arizona that the only way to end this pandemic is to remain vigilant.
Right now, the state urgently needs his leadership.