Dear Governor Ducey:
As a free market organization that represents entrepreneurs, job creators and hardworking taxpayers throughout the state, the Free Enterprise Club has defended many of the actions that you have taken to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Dealing with a crisis in real time is always going to be difficult, especially when information and data is incomplete. There was an incredible amount of uncertainty and risk in mid-March, and a shutdown of the economy–while drastic–was understood.
To say that the press conference announcing the extension of the stay-at-home order was a disappointment would be an understatement. Your decision was confusing, provided no certainty for the thousands of small businesses that are on the verge of bankruptcy, and shifted the rationale for why we started the shutdown to begin with.
The goal post shifting might be the most frustrating aspect of the extended stay-at-home order. When the closures began in Mid-March, we were told that these extreme measures were necessary to accomplish two tasks:
- Flatten the Curve to ensure so we don’t see a huge spike in hospitalizations resulting in our healthcare system being overwhelmed.
- Provide an opportunity for our hospital system to ramp up and prepare for an influx of Covid-19 cases.
Both of these goals have been achieved by wide margins. The curve has been flattened. There has been no large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Arizona and hospitalization rates have been flat for a month. Our healthcare system took advantage of the time provided by increasing supplies of ventilators, beds and other essential PPE needed to combat the pandemic. And residents throughout the state sacrificed their income, jobs, businesses and mental health to do their part to stop the spread.
Yet now we have created a new arbitrary set of metrics for ending the shutdown. At the press conference you commented that a Fortune 100 company told you that public confidence is too low to open. That polling showed some people believe Arizona is just not ready to reopen. You claimed that another governor had a “bad experience” during their reopening (even though it is way too early to make any such declarations). It was also mentioned that we need better data trendlines than what we have seen.
It is easy to see why thousands of Arizona residents and businesses owners were furious after the announcement. These explanations offered no clear path forward and made it appear that the voices of large companies and wealthy restaurant owners speak for the entire business community, not the thousands of small businesses being wiped out because of the shutdown.
Even more frightening for those waiting to reopen is that likely nothing will different by May 15th to satisfy your new criteria. The number of new daily Covid-19 cases will be roughly the same and hospitalization rates will remain flat. Public confidence won’t be improved. Doomsday modelers that have been wrong from the beginning will still be warning of dark days ahead if we end the shutdown. And your office will encounter the same opposition to reopening from the same politicians, media outlets and twitter pundits, most of whom have not lost a single paycheck or suffered any financial hardship during the pandemic.
Not surprisingly, citizens watching their lives be destroyed are becoming more defiant in the face of what they see as government overreach and abuse. The number and size of protests throughout the state are growing by the day. Restaurants and other small retail shops on the verge of bankruptcy are beginning to open despite warnings from law enforcement or concerns about losing their business license. Social unrest is becoming a real threat, something that is not carrying enough weight in the current decision-making process.
Now more than ever the residents of Arizona crave leadership. This is not a crisis that can be solved looking at polling numbers or crafting a snappy slogan. You have often spoke of “being bold” during your time in office—that is what Arizona needs today! It is time to lead, and here are a few suggestions:
- Reopen Arizona Today! The debate has often centered around reopening our economy, but this is much bigger than that. This is about reopening society, and you need to lead on a plan that gets our state opened today. Most understand that our lives won’t go back to normal right away and that some activities (sporting events, concerts, large gatherings, etc.) will be delayed. But there is no reason that anyone wanting to get back to work should be denied that opportunity.
- Provide Clear Guidelines for Businesses. Missing from your press conference was any clear guidelines for businesses on what to do when they reopened. This was rectified somewhat a few days later, but the reality is that businesses are as confused as ever on what do to. Providing simple guidelines will improve confidence for both employers and the public as places begin to reopen.
- Trust our Judgement. The primary reason that the so-called “experts” and modelers continue to be wrong in their predictions is that they believe they can predict and control the actions of millions of people. They cannot and the more that the government or the Karens of the world try to impose their will on others, the more it will backfire. You must trust that citizens will make healthy choices and are better at protecting themselves and their families than the government.
- Provide the Facts on Covid-19. As Arizona begins to reopen, people should be provided with an accurate picture of the true risks associated with Covid-19. The data is overwhelming that there are at at-risk populations, primarily those over the age of 65 or with chronic health conditions. But it is also a fact, supported by evidence, that healthy children and adults under the age of 45 are at an extremely low risk of getting seriously ill. There is also little evidence to support the notion that major suppression/lockdown efforts have been any more effective at containing the spread of Covid-19 than lighter mitigation efforts. This information should guide our response and also help people make informed decisions on the lifestyle decisions they choose to make.
Governor Ducey, if you lead on reopening, people will follow. We urge you to take the reigns and lead our great state back to prosperity.