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The Daily Agenda: A surge with a faulty surge line
We've lost count of which wave we're on ... Let's talk about the weather instead.
ICYMI Arizona isn’t very good at pandemic management. More than half of states put measures in place that prevent public health officials from exercising their power since the pandemic began, according to health news outlet Kaiser Health News. These include restrictions on mask mandates, vaccine requirements and quarantine rules. You guessed it: Arizona did all three.
Meanwhile, Arizona’s urban hospitals are filling up, meaning rural patients can’t transfer to the specialty care facilities they need. Rural doctors are making numerous calls to find facilities that can accept their patients and people are dying in the meantime, the Arizona Daily Star’s Patty Machelor reported.
The “surge line” officials set up early in the pandemic to find hospital bed availability is only for COVID-19 patients. Local health officials want to change that, but the Department of Health Services hasn’t made up its mind, Machelor reported.
“We’re rationing care but not in a rational way,” Stephen Harris, CEO of Santa Cruz Valley Regional Hospital, told the Star.
Part of the reason hospitals are so full is because people put off seeking treatment during the height of the pandemic. People poisoning themselves with snake oil cures — like horse dewormer ivermectin, which has become a favorite for vaccine conspiracists — is also complicating things.
Meanwhile Gov. Doug Ducey’s newest public health yes-man, former Surgeon General and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Richard Carmona, penned a blog post saying he’s not a yes-man. Carmona complained that not enough people are vaccinated, but didn’t explain his position on vaccine mandates, and the post focused not on the lives lost from COVID-19, but the money lost.
As schools are in full swing — maskless if they want some of those sweet COVID bucks Ducey is passing out — the virus is spreading.
So is it any wonder that Arizona has moved into the seventh-worst slot in terms of states’ per capita deaths from COVID-19? The national average is one-in-500 deaths. Arizona’s average is one-in-375.
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A never-ending stream of vacancies: Arizona has its newest state senator. As expected, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appointed Raquel Terán to the Senate seat left open when accused child molester Tony Navarrete resigned. That leaves another vacancy, since Terán will leave the House of Representatives to serve in the upper chamber.
Democrats want another vacancy: The Maricopa County Democratic Party called on county attorney Allister Adel to resign, saying they’re sympathetic to her fight, but she can’t run the office from rehab.
Better than Christmas: Senate President Karen Fann told Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan to turn over audit records yesterday, a day after the Arizona Supreme Court declined to hear her appeal about trying to keep the records secret. If you need to know how to file a records request and want to join in on the bonanza, our guide to public records can be found here. And Cyber Ninjas blew another deadline for its audit report, which was supposed to be delivered yesterday.
The third time was not the charm: The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors met in an executive session yesterday, but didn’t make any decisions about outstanding subpoenas that call for them to turn over routers or lose a substantial part of their revenue.
This is the song that never ends: Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s lawsuit that claims Arizona State University violated the gift clause by making a deal with the Omni Hotel that exempts the hotel from paying taxes is still alive. The Arizona Supreme Court said it will hear arguments from Brnovich that the suit wasn’t too late and is within his authority.
New governor south of the border: Sonora’s new governor, Alfonso Durazo, has been making the rounds after being sworn in Monday, pledging to fight corruption and strengthen security. Ducey had a very close relationship with the last governor, Claudia Pavlovich, but it’s worth noting she came from the center-right PRI party, which had a stranglehold over Mexican politics for nearly a century. The new governor comes from the leftist Morena party of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
You’ve gotta wait in line now to pay $20 for a sandwich you don’t even want: Food service workers with HMS Host at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport went on strike yesterday to protest understaffing. The Republic’s Melissa Yeager reports that the strike closed two of the 25 open restaurants for the day; the rest of them were able to stay open because of managers and workers from other businesses.
The countdown begins: Details continue to trickle out about Stephanie Grisham’s tell-all book, including that Melania Trump nearly slept through chunks of election night. “I knew by now how much sleep meant to her, but still, I couldn’t imagine being asleep at a time like that,” Grisham wrote, according to Politico. “Maybe she thought that someone would wake her up if Trump won.” Her book also now has a cover, which is, appropriately, an empty podium. (It’s possible this happened a few days ago, but we just noticed while pre-ordering our copies so we can host a book club once this book is published.)
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This is what light regulation looks like: The Republic found a lax system overseeing massage therapists accused of misconduct, meaning complaints don’t keep therapists from working. People who allege sexual abuse by massage therapists face an uphill battle with the industry’s oversight board to get the therapists’ licenses taken away, Anne Ryman reported.
Weather is still hard to predict: The Washington Post explains that while monsoon prediction has come a long way, this year’s hyperactive Southwest storm season shows it’s still as much an art as a science.
Except for heat — that’s pretty easy: A new study states the obvious: If you work outside, it’s hot as hell. If we don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions, outdoor workers will be exposed to four times as many days that “feel like” 100 degrees by 2050, the study says.
Let’s end on an uplifting note: Arizona teacher Sian Proctor became the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft when she climbed aboard the SpaceX mission that launched yesterday.
We love the Arizona State Library. The librarians are routinely the fastest and most helpful people we deal with at the Capitol. And they’ll answer questions from the public, too. They have a website where you can ask a question about Arizona, and one of their experts will respond. Have at it!
We’re so terrified just sitting inside courtrooms that we try not to breathe too loud. But that’s not the case for a man who called himself “Hanson” at the trial against alleged blood scammer Elizabeth Holmes — he whipped out a Rice Krispie bar and loudly went to town, NPR reports. Holmes is familiar to some Arizona lawmakers, who met her on her lobbying tour and decided to change state law to help her company, Theranos. “Hanson” told reporters he was a concerned citizen who loved cars who was attending the trial to see how journalists covered it. But reporters caught on soon enough that he was something of a scammer himself: He donned an everyman costume — a baseball cap and a puffer jacket — but forgot to not wear his expensive loafers. He turned out to be much more than a random concerned citizen: William "Bill" L. Evans, whose name is not actually Hanson, is the father of Holmes’ partner and a very wealthy man. The bit about loving old cars was true, though. There’s already a Holmes movie in the works; we hope this scene gets added to the screenplay.
Outside U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s office tomorrow at 4 p.m., Arizona Jews For Justice and Phoenix Animal Save will rally to encourage the senator to vote for the reconciliation package.
Meanwhile, FreedomWorks is hosting a rally to “stop the spending” outside U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly’s office today at 5:30 p.m. in hopes of convincing Kelly to vote against the reconciliation package.