Sinema: Ducey failing AZ by not closing bars, restaurants

By: - March 17, 2020 12:36 pm
kyrsten sinema

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema says Gov. Doug Ducey is putting Arizonans at risk of the coronavirus by failing to close down restaurants like has been done in other states and large cities. 

Sinema, a Democrat who was elected in 2018, has been critical of Ducey in a series of tweets on Monday and Tuesday. Monday evening, she called on Arizona to “temporarily close clubs, bars, museums, libraries, gyms and other places where large groups congregate.” Restaurants, she wrote, should close their dining rooms and shift to to-go and delivery service.

UPDATE: Shortly after this article was published, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego announced that the city was declaring a state of emergency, “forcing immediate closure of bars and moving restaurants to delivery/take-out/drive-through only” beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday. She said the City of Tucson is doing the same.

Citing a study by Imperial College London researchers predicting up to 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. if aggressive government-mandated social distancing measures aren’t taken immediately, Sinema took direct aim at Ducey, noting that the White House has recommended an end to on-site dining at restaurants, bars and food courts. 

“These are MINOR steps to slow the spread. It will take much more than this soon… Will Arizona do its part? Look at the consequences,” she wrote.

On Tuesday morning, the Arizona Department of Health Services recommended – but didn’t require – dining establishments in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties “discourage dine-in traffic” in favor of delivery and curb-side service. ADHS advised restaurants that opt to allow people to dine-in should practice social distancing by “providing space for customers to be placed at least 6 feet apart, and limiting space for customers to congregate in areas of the restaurant.”

When Ducey promoted the revised ADHS guidelines, Sinema pounced.

“Yesterday, the White House asked everyone to not dine-in over the next 15 days. Today, (Ducey) & (ADHS) decide Arizona doesn’t need to follow the WH guidelines during these critical 15 days, allowing restaurant in-dining to stay open,” she wrote.

A spokesman for the governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In other tweets, Sinema noted that Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, closed that state’s bars and nightclubs, and sharply limited restaurant capacity to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the illness COVID-19. 

“Florida just took this protective action for its citizens #flattenthecurve,” she wrote, referring to the epidemiological term for limiting the spread of infectious diseases.

Sinema also praised companies like Harkins Theatres and Lifetime Fitness for temporarily closing, saying that both have “shown great leadership.” Their decisions were made “absent state leadership,” she said.

Arizona lawmakers are currently planning on passing a bare-bones budget this week and either suspending or ending their annual session to prevent spread of the coronavirus. 

There are currently 19 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Arizona. No one has died from COVID-19.

Nationwide, there are more than 4,200 verified COVID-19 cases in the United States and 45 people have died.

How you can tell if you might have been impacted

Symptoms of coronavirus resemble that of the flu. So, if you’re experiencing coughing, fever, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath, you should consider getting checked out. Call your primary care physician or visit an urgent care center or emergency room — but call the health care provider before you go so they can be prepared for your arrival. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is taking COVID-19 calls: 1-844-542-8201

How the coronavirus spreads

  • Through the air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it

How to prevent spreading the coronavirus

  • Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Don’t use your hands.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean surfaces frequently, including counter tops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
  • Contain: if you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.