by Cole Lauterbach
With many of his executive orders enshrined into law, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has opted to end the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration.
The governor terminated the declaration as thresholds set by state agencies show the threat of the disease is nowhere near what it once was.
“Thanks to the hard work of many – health care workers, businesses, public and private sector employees – COVID-19 is no longer an emergency in Arizona,” Ducey said. “This virus isn’t completely gone, but because of the vaccine and other life-saving measures, today, we are better positioned to manage and mitigate it.”
The termination is immediate.
Maricopa County also announced it was ending its emergency declaration.
“I am proud of the staff at the Maricopa County Departments of Public Health and Emergency Management for coming together and leading the way on the response,” Board of Supervisors Chair Bill Gates said. “Their expertise allowed the Board to stay informed and direct resources to areas of the community when and where it was needed.”
Originally declared March 11, 2020, Ducey used his emergency powers to institute a stay-at-home order, mask mandate, distancing requirements and other rules that extended beyond the abilities of the executive office under normal circumstances. The orders closed some businesses and restricted capacity in others, all in an effort to fight the rapidly-spreading COVID-19 virus that has infected more than 2 million Arizonans. The Department of Health Services attributes 29,268 deaths to COVID-19.
Ducey also implemented a streamlined expansion of telehealth services, bans on COVID-19 vaccination mandates and discrimination based on vaccination status. The Legislature has sent Ducey several pieces of legislation codifying those changes, meaning they will not go away with the ending of the emergency declaration.
Ducey often described his use of emergency powers as a middle-ground compared with other governors who either took more severe steps or those who did not do as much to intervene. He often responded to questions from reporters on this, saying he never would make the “lock everything down” crowd happy but would not appease the other extreme, letting the coronavirus spread unchecked.
Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th U.S. Surgeon General and special adviser to Ducey on public health preparedness, said the state has gained the experience to address future issues.
“The current COVID-19 outbreak period in Arizona has ended. COVID-19 is by no means completely through with us, however, and it’s reasonable to expect we will see increases in cases at times as the virus mutates to survive,” Dr. Carmona said.
More than 70% of Arizonans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination and more than 60% are fully vaccinated against the virus.
Ducey received praise from President Joe Biden for the state’s rapid roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations at State Farm Center, calling it a “national model” for distribution.
Cole Lauterbach is a regional editor for The Center Square covering Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.
Photo “Doug Ducey” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.