Where Are the COVID19 Wizards to Help Us Re-Imagine Ourselves & Our Future? (video)

Post-COVID19 world

Three and a half months of sheltering in place — with the novel Coronavirus just one chance encounter away — have given us time to perfect our strategies for survival during the current government-created public health crisis and to make plans for a safe, more equitable, more enlightened future.

COVID19 turned the spotlight on the glaring disparities in our social and economic systems. The virus smashed open those broken systems and refused to let us turn away from the inequities of who gets sick, who lives, who dies, who goes broke, who loses their home, and who is forced to work in unsafe conditions. Blacks in the US have the highest death rates from COVID19 across all age groups, followed by Latinos, and with whites trailing behind. Your ZipCode, your income, and your race should not determine your healthcare access or your health outcomes.

On top of this outrage within the health care delivery system, we witness the unnecessary deaths of George Floyd (Minneapolis), Dion Johnson (Phoenix), Rayshard Brooks (Atlanta), Carlos Ingram Lopez (in Tucson) and others at the hands of law enforcement officers and the out-sized police response to the George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protests around the country.  Also, don’t get me started about my fears for the widening achievement gap between K-12 students whose parents have a reliable Internet connection and adequate computing power for online learning and the students who don’t.

All of these systems were broken before COVID19.  The pandemic and related system failures tell us we can no longer ignore and enable the structural racism, sexism, and widespread discrimination in our systems and laws.  Excuse my language, but this sh*t’s gotta change. Now is the time to strategize for a better, more equitable, more inclusive future. Where are the wizards to help us re-imagine our country and create the vision?

Continue reading Where Are the COVID19 Wizards to Help Us Re-Imagine Ourselves & Our Future? (video)

When a Crisis Hits, #PublicBanks Respond Quickly (video)

Public Banking Institute video

It took Arizona three months to reach 20,000 cases of COVID19. After Governor Dour Ducey opened up the economy in early May, it took only three weeks to add another 20,000 cases. Arizona now has the WORST outbreak of COVID19 in the nation.

In addition to our state’s disregard for solid public health policies, such as a longer shelter in place directive or wearing masks in public, the state government has been shamefully slow and stingy in distribution of aid. Only 6 percent of the 16,000 Arizonans who applied for eviction relief have received it, and renters face an eviction cliff in mid-July if the Governor doesn’t act. Distribution of unemployment, pandemic unemployment, and federal aid that passes through the Governor’s office has been equally slow and minimalist. What is the point of forcing more strife onto people? Why the slow distribution of funds?

Continue reading When a Crisis Hits, #PublicBanks Respond Quickly (video)

#AZ House Passes Insurance Bills, Ignores Calls for #COVID19 Special Session (video)

OK, I’m back in the saddle again. Back in the Arizona House, that is.

To be safe, I am doing Floor sessions on the Floor with my mask and gloves but all other meetings remotely.

Today, we had a very interesting Democratic Caucus meeting in the morning. ASU data modeling scientists presented data and answered many questions about COVID19. Following that, the Grand Canyon Institute presented on unemployment insurance and what a mess it was in Arizona, even before COVID19. Both of these presentations were excellent; it was such a breath of fresh air to hear the Grand Canyon Institute speak, instead of the Goldwater Institute! It gave me a glimpse of what the Arizona Legislature could be if the Democrats took control this year. (The meeting will be available in the Capitol TV archived videos.)

At the beginning of the floor session today, Rep. Arlando Teller from the Navajo Nation proposed sine die. This would have ended the 54th session, as the Arizona Senate has already voted to do. The Navajo Nation now has a higher COVID19 infection rate than New York City. Both Teller and his seat mate Rep. Myron Tsosie talked about the friends and family who have been sick with the novel Coronavirus and those who have died. Several Democrats gave speeches about focusing on the pandemic rather than focusing on pet legislation that is not an emergency. Rep. Kelly Townsend accused the Democrats of politicizing the issue. Teller’s motion was vetoed on a party line vote.

What did the House Republicans do next? They put up 15-20 unnecessary, non-emergency bills for debate and a vote.

Continue reading #AZ House Passes Insurance Bills, Ignores Calls for #COVID19 Special Session (video)

Arizona House Resumes 54th Session on May 19. Now What?

Arizona House

The Arizona House of Representatives has been adjourned since March 23, 2020, due to the COVID19 pandemic. Some of us wanted to vote to sine die (end the session) on March 23 and come back later for special session(s) focused on COVID19 public health and economic issues. Others– mostly Republicans– wanted to stay in session and adjourn because they had hopes that their bills would still pass during this session. I say “mostly Republicans” because even though the Democrats make up 48 percent of the Arizona Legislature, the majority party refuses to move more than a handful of Dem bills each session.

Truth in Renting? No way. Expansion of maternal and child health?  No way. Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment? No way. Fully funding P-20 education? No way.

The majority party refuses to hear these types of bills that would help the people of Arizona because these bills are not backed by special interest groups, big money donations, individual corporations, the Chamber of Commerce, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), the Goldwater Institute, Americans for Prosperity or the “Institute for Justice” (quote marks added to emphasize the irony of their name).

Continue reading Arizona House Resumes 54th Session on May 19. Now What?

#COVID19: Should Grandma ‘Take One for the Team’? (video)

Arizona House HHS Committee Meeting

The House Health and Human Services Committee met on Thursday, May 14, to hear testimony from several California experts on opening up Arizona’s economy.

The two primary presenters were scientists whose recent research shows that COVID19 infection in the population could be much more widespread in the population than we had thought and that the virus has been in the US since November 2019, a viewpoint that appears to have little factual evidence behind it.  Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford Health Policy) has developed an antibody test and conducted research on the spread of COVID19 in the community and death rates; his research methods and data have been criticized. Dr. Neeraj Sood (USC Sol Price School of Public Policy) also did research on COVID19 community spread and death rates; his results were released prematurely and without his knowledge. According to these two, people who got the virus very early didn’t know it because most people have mild symptoms.

Using their data, they say that the risk of death for the general population is much lower than previously thought, but the death rate for seniors is still exponentially higher than the rest of the population. The crux of their argument was that we should have stringent procedures in long-term care facilities to keep Grandma and Grandpa safe, and everyone else should get back to school and to work.

Continue reading #COVID19: Should Grandma ‘Take One for the Team’? (video)

#AZHouse HHS Committee to Hear Experts on Opening Economy on May 14 (video)

COVID19 computer models

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 knowledgeLanhee 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.

Continue reading #AZHouse HHS Committee to Hear Experts on Opening Economy on May 14 (video)