Vaccine on the way, Ducey spurns more restrictions

Gov. Doug Ducey explains Wednesday why he won’t impose additional restrictions even as the state is setting new records for COVID-19 infections. With him is state Health Director Cara Christ. /Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times

Arizona is expected to receive “hundreds of thousands” of doses of vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of the month, state health chief Cara Christ said Wednesday, with priority for health-care workers, vulnerable populations, residents of long-term care facilities and teachers.

The announcement came even as she disclosed that one person out of every seven who got tested for the virus last week showed they were infected. And her agency reported a new one-day record for cases.

But Gov. Doug Ducey, standing at her side, refused to put any new mitigation measures or restrictions in place to get the state past the point where a majority of Arizonans can actually be inoculated. In fact, he specifically rejected a proposal by the chief medical officers of several Arizona hospitals to put in place a curfew, close restaurants to indoor dining and cancel group athletic activities. Instead, Ducey said he is relying on the idea that Arizona will have sufficient hospital beds to treat those who get ill in the interim.

That decision for no new mitigation strategies puts the governor at odds with elements of the state’s medical community.

The Arizona Medical Association pointed out Wednesday that other states facing the same rise in COVID-19 cases already are implementing new restrictions, including curfews and closing restaurants for indoor dining.

“Arizona is nearing this critical point,’’ said association President Russ Goldberg in a prepared statement.

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