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Former Gov. Jan Brewer discusses how Arizona is handling pandemic

Posted at 7:42 AM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 21:15:57-04

Just one day into Arizona allowing dine-in customers again, the Cliff Castle Chopper flew over C.A.S.A. in Tempe and saw a number of people crowding into the restaurant with little social distancing.

Tempe Police were called, but the restaurant was never cited.

"It was absolutely disrespectful and wrong," explains former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. "You see behavior like that, and the majority of us are staying at home, washing our hands and sterilizing until we are raw, and we are doing all the right things."

Even with all those extra safety measures, Arizona is still seeing hundreds of new coronavirus cases every day.

Throughout this pandemic, we've seen protesters at the capitol, demanding Governor Doug Ducey re-open the state sooner. At the same time, others worry it's all moving too fast and the state is re-opening too soon, so we took that question to former Governor Brewer.

"We have to get the economy back open," explains Brewer. She goes on to say, "He [Ducey] feels comfortable in doing that and he is our executive officer so he has that responsibility."

Gov. Brewer also says a lot goes into a major decision like that.

"You don't take that lightly. They are trying to be very diligent in the decisions they make."

What about the debate over masks? In Arizona, it's not a requirement to wear them in public places like we've seen in other states. Gov. Brewer says it's a tough call when it comes to forcing people to wear masks, but for her personally, she doesn't leave home without it, even telling us she encourages her friends to wear them.

"I tell them, 'it's too bad you're so selfish and that you only care about what you think is right and what you want to do and move about. But you should wear it for your friends, your family, and your neighbors.'"

But there's another side to this pandemic - the economic turmoil that so many Arizonans are trying to navigate.

"It's absolutely a sad dilemma we're seeing," explains Brewer.

And help isn't coming fast enough. Whether it's people having a hard time getting through, not getting the right amount of money, or getting denied completely, the Department of Economic Security is dealing with an explosion of new claims, but Brewer doesn't blame the agency specifically.

"I don't know how they could do it any better than they're doing it," she explains.

Instead, Brewer says the computers and technology in place simply cannot handle the sudden surge.

"We would do a little here and a little there, but we we really need an overhaul...we are behind on our IT."

ABC15 has reached out to the director of DES for an interview but has not heard back.