Coronavirus funding, policy changes outlined in request to Ducey




    Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    To combat the spread of coronavirus in Arizona, legislative Democrats have asked Gov. Doug Ducey to fund drive-through testing facilities, paid sick leave for Arizona employees and “aggressive cleaning” of public transit vehicles. 

    In an email to Ducey’s top aides that Arizona Mirror reviewed, Democrats in the Arizona House of Representatives outlined a wish list that spans from funding to help affected workers to expanding community outreach and education efforts to preventing price gouging.

    The request also includes a special legislative session, as the Mirror reported previously

    Ducey’s office has rejected the call for a special session, at least for now. Instead, the governor has declared a state of emergency and issued an executive order allowing the state to cover the cost of coronavirus tests in Arizona. 

    The virus, which causes the illness COVID-19, was declared a worldwide pandemic on Wednesday by the World Health Organization.

    “As we all agreed, the Cononavirus (CoVID19) epidemic is not a Republican or Democratic issue, it’s an issue that impacts every Arizonan – we hope we can work in partnership to ensure the best response,” Cynthia Aragón, Chief of Staff for the House Democratic Caucus, wrote Wednesday in the email to Ducey’s top staff. 

    The funding, policy changes and actions requested by Democrats are below.

    Communication 

    To the public:

    • Establish a statewide hotline at the Arizona Department of Health Services for coronavirus information
    • Mass information dissemination through TV, radio, online and other means
    • Provide information for lawmakers and other elected officials to share with their constituents

    To legislators:

    • Daily updates from ADHS
    • Briefings on preparedness and response plans

    Funding

    • Create a fund to pay for mandatory testing
    • Launch and fund drive-through testing facilities, like those set up in Washington
    • Provide free evaluation and testing for those without health insurance
    • Create a fund to pay for public employees who become sick or are required to quarantine
    • Provide public assistance to Arizonans who become ill or quarantined and can’t pay their bills or mortgage
    • Additional funding for food banks
    • Create a fund for personal protective equipment for emergency personnel and first responders
    • Pay for aggressive mass transit cleaning schedules, including buses, trains, shuttles and ride-share vehicles
    • Provide funding for temporary additional child care subsidies, unemployment and TANF benefits

    Policy

    • Prevent price gouging
    • Prohibit foreclosures, evictions and utility shut-offs during a time of emergency
    • Streamline unemployment and assistance benefit applications for workers laid off as a result of the coronavirus
    • Mandate where feasible that wage-earning employees keep their employer health insurance, even if their workload temporarily dips below 32 hours per week

    Establish guidelines

    • Directions and guidelines for nursing home and long-term care facilities and home-care services for when their employees become sick or quarantined
    • Issue directions and guidelines to public school boards regarding when they should close schools
    • Make public directions and guidelines for who should be tested for coronavirus

    Reporting requirements

    Require all hospitals to report the following to ADHS daily:

    • Number of open ICU beds
    • Number of open hospital beds
    • Number of available ventilators
    • The average time a patient waits to be seen in the ER for the past 48 hours
    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.