PHOENIX — Vaccines, education, and the economy -- three main focuses of Governor Doug Ducey as Arizona endures and rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ducey sat down one-on-one Wednesday with Tucson Scripps station KGUN9's Craig Smith to talk about coronavirus in Arizona.
On vaccines, Governor Ducey said he's pressing the federal government to provide more doses of the COVID vaccine to our state, but Arizonans still need to act responsibly to prevent the spread of the virus.
“I know what a challenge it’s been for so many Arizonans that have contracted the virus, that have lost a loved one," Ducey said. "This has been an immensely challenging year even beyond what all of us have done in traditional work settings or in the education setting or in the disruption in the economy.”
The governor said medical professionals and volunteers have done a great job delivering vaccinations statewide and praised Pima County’s performance.
Pima County has pleaded for more vaccines from the state. The Governor told KGUN9 he’s pushing the President, Arizona’s US Senators, and vaccine makers to send much more vaccine. He said the state is working on better ways to reserve a shot online or by phone.
“And then the other thing is just that responsibility. I know people get sick of hearing it. I try to not get sick of saying it. But it’s that idea of doing the fundamentals around personal responsibility and wearing a mask," Ducey said.
The governor said he is listening to experts who say the vaccine alone isn't enough to shut down the virus and that we need more restrictions. But Ducey didn't commit to adding to existing rules that require steps like banning large gatherings and reducing the density in restaurants.
Governor Ducey says part of the reason he made teachers a priority for vaccination is he wants schools to re-open for in-person classes. He feels science supports the idea that schools present a low risk of spreading the virus. He plans to ask state lawmakers for extra funding to help students catch up from the effect of a school year disrupted by COVID.
“So things like summer school, one on one instruction, tutoring, after school classes, acceleration academies," Governor Ducey said.
In terms of rebuilding the economy, the governor said Arizona’s economy was ahead of many other states when the pandemic hit and is positioned to lead the country in job growth after the pandemic is over.
“I would say in Arizona because we’ve had this balanced approach, prioritizing lives first but also not having sweeping mandates that were not advised from public health officials," Ducey said. "We don’t have an economy to rebuild we have an economy to build on.”