WASHINGTON — After reopening weeks ago against public safety guidelines, Arizona saw a huge spike in its coronavirus cases. Now, the state is overwhelmed as restaurants are shutting down again and hospitals are stretched thin to manage the influx in patients.
Republican lawmakers downplayed the pandemic and flouted health safety guidelines before the spike in cases. They were encouraging a disregard to health measures:
- Senator Sylvia Allen claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic “has not been the emergency we thought it would be” and called against “more restrictions.” She also promoted the re-opening of schools to return back to normal and focus on learning rather than the “fear of a virus.”
- Many legislators did not wear masks around other people in public and have promoted misleading facts about the effectiveness of masks. Representative Walt Blackman even suggested that masks are useless because “you are breathing in your own carbon-monoxide if you’re wearing it all day.”
- A group of GOP lawmakers attended Donald Trump’s rally in Arizona, including party leaders Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers — all without wearing masks.
- Representative Anthony Kern made an offensive and illogical claim that the government response to COVID-19 and Japanese internment were fair comparisons.
- Representative Walt Blackman mocked his Democratic colleagues for their concerns about exposure to COVID-19 and accused Democrats of spreading false narratives about the virus.
- Senator Sylvia Allen claimed that the government’s response to the pandemic was part of a scheme to give away “free money.” She also traveled to the Navajo Nation while it was in the midst of a devastating COVID outbreak without wearing a mask or social distancing.
- Representative Anthony Kern thanked Republican Governor Ducey for lifting the stay at home order and decided to hit the gym — which has now shut back down again.
“Republicans in Arizona didn’t take the global pandemic seriously, and now Arizonans are paying the price,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post. “Their refusal to follow guidelines from public health experts highlights their callous disregard for the lives of Arizonans.”