Amid the nationwide controversy regarding when it is safe for states to open up their economies during a pandemic, the Arizona House Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee will meet to hear presentations from open up experts. What about hearing from the public health experts, too?
The HHS meeting will be Thursday, May 14 at 1 p.m. The meeting was a total surprise to the Democrats on HHS. Why is this a surprise? Because the House has been in adjournment, with committee hearings paused, since March 23.
The agenda just popped into our inboxes on Tuesday and in the past 24 hours additional speakers have been added.￼ The meeting is a collection of presentations by out-of-state experts who support opening up Arizona’s economy: Aaron Ginn, who is the co-founder of the Lincoln Network; Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford Health Policy), who has developed an antibody test, conducted research on the spread of COVID19 in the community and death rates, and whose research methods have been critized; Dr. Neeraj Sood (USC Sol Price School of Public Policy), who also did research on COVID19 community spread and death rates and whose results were released prematurely and without his knowledge; Lanhee J. Chen (Hoover Institute and Stanford University School of Public Policy), a FOX commentator and former Romney advisor, who has been critical of WHO and supports bring college students back to campus; Avik Roy, who is the President of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and who advocates for young people going back to work because mostly old people will die from COVID19; Dr. Joel W. Hay (USC Shaeffer Center), whose Twitter feed rails against state economic lock downs and cites Sweden (who has a higher death toll than neighboring countries) and sparsely populated South Dakota as success stories because they didn’t lock down their economies to stop the spread.
HHS Dems sent a letter to HHS Chair Nancy Barto asking to hear from some Arizona experts, rather than just listen to people from California tell us what we should be doing. (What happened to “don’t California my Arizona?”) For example, the HHS Democrats also would like to hear from these Arizona experts and get their thoughts on what the others have to say: Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS); Will Humble, former ADHS director and current executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association; Dr. Dan Derksen, from the Rural Health Office; and Dr. Tim Lant, from Arizona’s university-based COVID19 modeling team.
Governor Ducey has issued several executive orders in the past two weeks, since he said on April 29 that we would open the economy slowly and look at the data at every step of the way.￼ Democrats lauded him for that measured approach. A few days later on May 4, right before President Trump’s visit and right after three days of open AZ public rallies in Phoenix, Ducey opened up Arizona a little bit more and fired the COVID19 data modeling scientists from the universities. After bad press on the Rachel Maddow Show, ADHS hired the scientists back a few days later. Between April 30 and May 8 when the Senate voted to sine die, Republican lawmakers in both chambers — fueled by astro-turf rallies at the Capital– revolted against Ducey’s measured approach to reopening the Arizona economy. On May 12, Ducey announced further loosening of the economy and expiration of the shelter in place executive order on Friday, May 15.
It’s only logical that in the midst of all this open AZ (or not) drama that HHS would have presentations by experts who back the ALEC plan to open up the economy regardless of the public health consequences. HHS Chair Barto is one of 11 Arizona Republican Legislators who signed a letter to Trump urging opening up the economy, ending relief benefits to people, additional tax cuts, more deregulation, and business liability protections (in case they open up too early and workers/customers/patients get sick or die).
￼Members will be allowed to join the meeting remotely. This is similar to the Financial Advisory Committee meeting that was several weeks ago. The presenters and a few other people were in Phoenix for that meeting, and everybody else was remote.￼
It will be broadcast live on azleg dot gov website on the Capital TV link. If you look at the agenda online, there is an email address where you can submit questions to the committee for the meeting.￼
My big question for these California experts is: why do they think it’s safe to open up Arizona when our COVID19 cases are not going down consistently and Phoenix is being watched as a potential new hotspot for an outbreak?￼ The Arizona economy will be in worse shape if we open to soon and have to shut down again than it would be if we just stay home until the end of May at least. An end of May open AZ was suggested by the University scientists who are doing Arizona modeling. I’d believe them before I’d believe anybody in the Republican Party or ALEC!