EJ MONTINI

Gov. Doug Ducey won't wear a COVID-19 face mask. He prefers to wear blinders

Opinion: COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise and the governor says he's following CDC guidelines. If so, he'd say that through a mask.

EJ Montini
Arizona Republic
Gov. Doug Ducey posted photos on his Twitter account on May 14, 2020, showing him having lunch with several state legislators at a Phoenix restaurant. None were shown wearing masks while together.

It would be a lot less annoying and a lot more honest if Gov. Doug Ducey simply said that he’s decided Arizona will not impose any more restrictions needed to save lives and is going full speed ahead – COVID-19 be damned.

Just … say it.

Instead, Ducey continues to pretend that he and his administration consider protecting the public health to be their top priority.

For example, he tweeted:

Arizona continues to reenergize our economy, expand testing & follow @CDCgov guidance to protect public health & safety. Thank you to Secretary @BetsyDeVosED for providing insight on returning to the classroom safely & @VP for the continued support as AZ works to #ReturnStronger.

The tweet was accompanied by photos of Ducey performing his public duties without wearing a face mask, something that he’s done again and again.

So much for following CDC guidance, which says:

“CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus …”

We put emergency plans before masks?

At the same time, since Ducey lifted restrictions there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases and in hospitalizations. So much so that hospitals have been advised by Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona Department of Health Services director, to "fully activate" their emergency plans.

If he does nothing else – which is apparently the plan – Ducey at least could follow the advice of Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer at Banner Health. Bessel entered a recent press conference wearing a face mask, only removing it when she was sure she was more than six feet away from the reporters to whom she was speaking.

Bessel said, “For those of you who were here when I came into the room, you noticed that I had a mask on. I took that mask off very carefully by the loops, and I placed it over here on a paper towel. As soon as I was done with that, I washed my hands. When I get ready to leave the press conference, you're going to see me reverse that.”

She added, “I know it can be very fatiguing to wear a mask, but I need you to wear a mask. Everybody out there needs to wear a mask so we can protect others and we need to do it appropriately.”

Masks slow the spread. They saves lives. Wearing one is no more of a political act than wearing a seatbelt. Or wearing a motorcycle helmet. Or wearing steel-toed shoes for your job. Or a reflective vest. Or noise-reducing ear plugs.

Donald Trump refuses to set a good example. He refuses to do what is safe and respectful for himself and others. He believes that going without a mask makes him look tough, rather than vain and witless.

And poor Gov. Ducey fears offending Trump, so he spurns masks in favor of political blinders.

COVID-19 be damned.

As well as more than a few those who choose to follow his example.

Reach Montini at ed.montini@arizonarepublic.com.