Arizona is a critical battleground state for the presidential race, and with COVID-19 cases rising, there are concerns if the governor will address the pandemic before the election.
Governor Doug Ducey has not held a press briefing on COVID-19 since late September, and it's unclear when the public will hear from him on the rising cases.
Ducey made a public appearance this week on stage with President Donald Trump while he was on the campaign trail in Prescott and Tucson. The governor, without a mask, stood near the president and energized the crowd of supporters by giving Trump credit.
“Mr. President, because of your policies, Arizona’s economy is booming,” Ducey said.
“I just think the governor has got to decide is he going to go the aggressive fighting COVID route: wearing masks, social distancing, urging us not to be in groups greater than ten people or is he going to stand before thousands, embrace President Trump, and give exactly the opposite message of COVID-19,” said political analyst Chris Herstam.
The governor’s office tells ABC15 that the election is not a factor in the governor’s silence. In a statement, a spokesperson said, “The campaign has been going on for quite some time now, and the governor has been out there consistently promoting public health messaging, whether it's in-person, on social media, on the airwaves and more, as have other members of this administration.”
Although the governor has not been in the public view, it appears Dr. Christ is seemingly in his place making public statements about the rise of COVID-19 in Arizona.
A spokesperson for Ducey sent ABC15 an interview that Christ did with another news outlet.
Along with sharing that, Ducey also shared the press coverage on social media.
On Thursday, Christ released a blog about how ADHS officials are on high alert, “while our state is not currently experiencing a surge to the degree other locations are experiencing right now, we have recently seen a shift of COVID-19 spread in the state in the wrong direction,” she wrote.
With the spread headed in the wrong direction, Dr. Christ also addressed the rising percent positivity, “The statewide percent positivity, which gives us information about community spread, has increased from 3.9% a few weeks ago to 5.5% last week. This is an early indicator of increased COVID-19 spread throughout Arizona communities.”
Herstam calls COVID-19 the worse possible issue for Trump and said Ducey’s silence is not a coincidence, “and, every time Ducey has to sit and answer questions from the media about it, it hurts Donald Trump in Arizona.”
A strong ally for the governor when it comes to Arizona businesses is Glenn Hamer with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.
Hammer said that public health comes first to the governor, “We feel the governor has handled this very well, as has Dr. Cara Christ.”
Hammer went on to say that the health of the economy is critical.
“The healthier Arizonans are, the more business we're going to have. I mean, there's a lot of people that won’t re-enter the economy unless they feel it is safe to do so, so public health and profits, go hand in hand,” said Hammer.
The President also an advocate for Ducey, praising the governor in his rallies this week, “he’s a great governor,” said Trump.
As for the question on if the public will we hear from the governor before the election, Herstam said only if there’s pressure, “I think the governor will only hold a news conference about COVID-19 in Arizona and discuss the pandemic in meaningful terms, only if he gets enough pressure to do so by the public and by the media.”