Arizona is ready to reopen, and the numbers show it

June 17, 2020

Washington Examiner: Capitol Views – Opinion
by Rep. Andy Biggs

The Left is apoplectic that Arizona and the rest of the country are moving to reopen our society. Gov. Doug Ducey is correct that Arizona needs to be open. We have all have been denied fundamental rights during lockdowns. As Arizona opens, we all must understand and mitigate the risks of the coronavirus. But the numbers simply do not support the hysteria that left-wing pundits and their media allies are attempting to foment. They keep shouting that the number of people who have been detected with the virus is up. They are correct, but all of the other measurements put that into context and undermine their panicked claims.

For instance, the raw number of people who have been detected with the virus is not as important as the percentage of people who test positive. During the lockdown, the percentage who tested positive fluctuated between 5.5% and 7.1%. Not remarkably, that is the same range we have seen since we have opened Arizona.

During the lockdown, when we had emptied out our hospitals, the highest percentage of ICU beds in use was 78%. On June 15, 2020, the reported ICU bed usage was 80%. That’s fairly consistent, and the Health System Alliance of Arizona sent a letter recently indicating that they were adequately prepared for a surge if one materialized.

During the lockdown, the highest daily number of individuals hospitalized for COVID-19 was 66. In free Arizona, the highest number occurred on June 2: 71 persons hospitalized. The reported number for June 16, 2020, was only one additional hospitalization.

The two highest daily death counts were during the lockdown on April 30 and again on May 7. We suffered a similar number of fatalities on June 16, 2020, but were still fewer than those two days.

We have never used more than 40% of the ventilators available in the state.

There are two hot spots that continue to be vexing in the persistence of the virus, border counties and the Navajo reservation. We should continue to provide support for those jurisdictions.

A study reported in the Telegraph on May 23 concluded that more people will die because of the lockdown than COVID-19. In our Arizona communities, the lockdown produced an increase in domestic violence, child abuse, alcohol and drug abuse, missed chemotherapy treatments, missed examination and detection of potential cancers, and a whole host of additional societal and health issues.

As Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt said, “I think the real virus was the panic virus. For reasons that were not clear to me, I think the leaders panicked and the people panicked.”

As the lockdown progressed, we saw economic devastation. Tens of millions of our countrymen lost their jobs. The national economy shrunk. People who had enjoyed work just days before were suddenly unemployed. People who had invested life savings in their businesses were shut down and lost those businesses. 

Can anyone honestly deny the physical and emotional toll on those who face economic ruin? The uncertainty and stress accompanying economic loss are accompanied by enormous negative consequences. Opening the economy and the entire society will be beneficial for public health.

The data points are available daily on the Arizona Department of Health Website. The data supports the reopening of Arizona. 

The pathologies and public health consequences of the lockdown are abundant and also support the reopening of Arizona.

The economic ruin, with its accompanying toll on the lives of our citizens, also supports the reopening of Arizona.

Those who want to close up Arizona need to view the entire context of this serious issue. Arizona must face this challenge with courage, respect, and wisdom. Courage to make hard choices and trust the people of Arizona. Respect for our freedom and the responsibility that accompanies our rights. Wisdom to acknowledge that Arizona must continue to provide leadership to the nation in opening our great state.

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