For much of the past year or so, Gov. Doug Ducey has pleaded with us to believe that his handling of the pandemic was (and would always be) guided by science and not political considerations. His actions last summer, when he suddenly lifted restrictions immediately after Donald Trump announced he was coming to Phoenix, proved that to be patently untrue. And we got another reminder of the governor’s pandemic-by-politics management last week when he abruptly ended all local mask mandates and lifted the barely-present restrictions on businesses.
We learned Friday that, rather than consult with health care leaders who know a thing or two about both infectious diseases and what it will take to avoid another surge of cases, Ducey spoke only to the public health agency that he controls. This, of course, is unsurprising: They would have told him to leave the restrictions in place to protect the well-being of Arizonans.
That’s advice that Ducey was unwilling to take because it would mean not following the herd of GOP governors acting as though the pandemic is over because 15% of people have a vaccine, so he chose not to seek it out.
He learned a lesson from last year, when he fired a team of university scientists and researchers who warned him about the clear and present dangers to everyone’s health and advised him not to lift restrictions. Unfortunately for all of us, the lesson he learned was that the news headlines are worse if you ask for advice from experts and then ignore it than if you never talk to the experts in the first place.
Make no mistake: The Ducey administration does not care how many of us get sick. Their entire mitigation strategy isn’t built around protecting your well-being, but around making sure enough of us don’t get sick that we fill up hospital beds.