Ducey rebuffs calls to quickly re-open Arizona’s economy




Gov. Doug Ducey answers a question, April 7, 2020, during a COVID-19 news conference at the Arizona Commerce Authority Conference Center in Phoenix. Photo by Mark Henle/Arizona Republic | Pool photo

As voices on the right grow louder in demanding that the economic lockdown come to an end, Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday expressed an eagerness to reopen Arizona’s economy, but said he won’t do so until it’s safe.

“Safety and our economy go hand in hand. From my vantage point, I want to get the economy moving and people back to work as soon as possible — when it is safe and healthy for people to do so,” Ducey said in a series of tweets on Monday afternoon.

The governor emphasized that his stay-home order, dubbed “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected,” which ordered nonessential businesses closed and mandated that people practice social distancing outside their homes, is in effect until April 30. 

Ducey also said he and his administration will start working with representatives from economic sectors such as restaurants, retail and tourism to craft plans for Arizona’s economic recovery. Their input, along with advice from health officials, will help guide his decision on when to reopen the economy, he said.

However, the governor made clear that he doesn’t believe the time for that has come yet, and said slowing the spread of the coronavirus is his top priority.

“Arizonans’ efforts to physical distance and make responsible choices are working. It’s critical that we keep those efforts up as we plan for the future and a time when we can begin to return some normalcy to people’s lives,” Ducey said.

Some conservatives are ramping up pressure on President Donald Trump and governors to end the lockdown that has ravaged the economy and put millions of Americans out of work. 

Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs, who chairs the conservative Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Examiner with Colorado Congressman Ken Buck calling on President Trump to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arguing that he has disregarded the economy as he advises the president on the coronavirus crisis.

“The longer government-imposed lockdowns go on, the more people will lose their jobs — millions more. Thousands of businesses will close their doors. The physical and emotional toll from this self-imposed economic destruction will be worse than the doomsday prophets projected,” Biggs and Buck wrote.

Trump and some governors are starting to make plans to lift their lockdowns in the near future, though no one has taken any concrete steps in that direction. The president announced on Monday that he’ll work with governors and others on plans to reopen the economy, and will unveil a task force on Tuesday aimed at accomplishing that goal.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday said he’ll outline plans this week to reopen his state’s economy. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York and a half dozen other East Coast states will form a regional working group tasked with making plans to end the lockdown, while the governors of California, Oregon and Washington formed a similar partnership for the West Coast.