PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to address Arizona's ongoing response to COVID-19. This was his first public press briefing since October 29.
His briefing came one day after a report from the White House said that more mitigation efforts were recommended for Arizona amid a "significant" COVID-19 resurgence in our state.
Governor Ducey and ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ encouraged Arizonans to continue to wear their masks, wash their hands, and avoid large gatherings ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, and also reiterated the restrictions that remain in place for bars, gyms, movie theaters, and restaurants.
He did not issue any further restrictions or limitations, including a statewide mask mandate, which some local leaders, including Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego had asked the governor to implement.
He did, however, issue an executive order that would require all schools to implement mask policies on school buses and grounds, and tasked Dr. Christ to work with Arizona's three main airports -- Phoenix Sky Harbor, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway, and Tucson International -- to offer on-site COVID-19 testing.
Governor Ducey finally addressed the ongoing legal battles and protests surrounding the November general election. "We can trust our elections here in Arizona," said Ducey, who himself won re-election in 2018.
Ever since President Trump was narrowly defeated by Joe Biden, some of Governor Ducey's fellow Republicans have openly disagreed with his "trust" in the system.
'We have to make sure every single vote that was legally cast was counted as the voter intended," said GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward, at a press conference Wednesday. "I want to make sure that Arizonans have confidence in our election process."
Ward acknowledged that Wednesday's Maricopa County tabulation's test once again showed 100 percent accuracy in the machines.
"I will tell you that the ones we have done so far came out the same. So that’s good. But there are several other questions that haven’t been addressed," Ward continued.
Many of the questions raised by some state leaders are not supported by any evidence of irregularities.
Currently, no court or election official has found credible evidence of widespread election fraud or failures.
The Arizona Republican party though, is suing. Asking a judge to require a random hand count audit to check for any errors.
Some lawsuits have already been dismissed, but Governor Ducey pointed to the ongoing legal challenges as a reason for his hesitance to declare former Vice President Biden the winner of Arizona and the current president-elect.
"Once those are adjudicated, and the process plays out, I will accept the results of the election," said Ducey, who was seen campaigning alongside President Trump throughout 2020.
"At this point in time in Arizona, Vice President Biden has about a 10,300 vote advantage - that is about three tenths of 1 percent - and there are legal challenges out there."
In regards to the fight against COVID-19, Governor Ducey also allocated $25 million to Arizona hospitals to support them, including for staff bonuses, and extended research efforts for COVID-19 vaccinations that remain in development.
Dr. Christ said that once a vaccine is readily available, it will first be distributed to healthcare workers, first responders, and those in care facilities.
Governor Ducey, however, did not mention any additional funding to help small businesses stay afloat, while many in the restaurant industry struggle to stay open.
"Small businesses will go out of business if we’re not able to operate at full capacity. We can’t open our doors and operate at full capacity with the number of cases we have in our state," said Chef Danielle Leoni, owner of The Breadfruit and Rum Bar. "This is a public health crisis - it’s something that has to be managed by our Arizona government."