Arizona is currently a COVID-19 hot spot. There are now 105,094 confirmed cases in the state, increasing 3,653 from the previous day, and 117 people died Monday, a single-day high. Since the start of the pandemic, the last seven days account for 25 percent of Arizona's total cases.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, a Democrat, said Sunday that testing sites in her city and surrounding Maricopa County are overwhelmed. She's asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help, but she was told the agency was "getting out of the testing business." There's not abundant evidence that the agency was ever in the business in the first place. Heck of a job.

Gallego has tried since April to get more testing resources for one of the country's major cities. Yet testing remains half-assed, especially for residents without health insurance. During the first three thousand years months of lockdown, the federal government was supposed to ramp up testing and contact tracing programs. That was the only way we could safely reopen the country. We weren't playing hide-and-seek with the coronavirus.

From the New York Times:

"We are the largest city not to have received this type of investment," Ms. Gallego said, noting that FEMA had set up testing sites in Houston, Los Angeles and elsewhere. "And you can see it in the increasing rate of positives."

More than 20 percent of tests in Arizona are coming back positive now, she said. "Public health officials tell me that when you're doing the appropriate amount of testing, it should be around 2 percent," she said.

Bloomberg's Steven Dennis tweeted today that Arizona's total COVID-testing was more than 30 percent positive. That's a lot. COVID-19 has killed 295 Arizonians in the past week.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence claimed that testing was available to every Arizonian who needed it. He's a giant sack of shit-stained lies.

"I hope they understand what it's like out here," Mayor Gallego said. "I wish I could have the president with me as people fill their cars with gas so they can wait in lines for eight hours, while they're sick and it's 110 degrees outside," to get a test.

"This is not just a Phoenix problem," she said. "I think many communities and people across both parties would like to see the federal government play a role."

The Trump administration is more interested in spin and racist dog whistles than in doing anything competent. However, Arizona's own elected officials share the blame for the state's catastrophic condition. As Gallego noted, during her tea spilling interview on Sunday's "This Week," Arizona “opened way too early" and went from “zero to 60," with disaster movie results.

GALLEGO: We had crowded clubs [in Old Town, Scottsdale] handing out free champagne, no masks.

Gov. Doug Ducey lifted the state's stay-at-home order in May so the economy could start rolling again, but last week he had to shut down "bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks" for at least 30 days as daily caseloads topped 3,000. Grand opening, grand closing!

From NPR:

GALLEGO: We sent a message that we had defeated COVID-19 and we had not ... We are really in a bad situation where we need more resources for our medical system and help with testing.

Gallego's rightly pissed. Ducey didn't much respect local control and required cities and counties to do nothing that "conflicts with or is in addition to" his own piddly-ass guidelines. Gallego was sounding the alarm about Arizona's COVID-19 response in mid June.

But it seems like Gallego is an island of intelligence in a sea of stupid. The town of Eagar had a Fourth of July parade, and no masks were required. Mayor Bryce Hamblin waved away all health concerns with gibberish about freedom and MAVERICK!

From USA Today:

"Over the past several weeks, I have been asked repeatedly what the Town of Eagar plans to do about COVID-19, masks, visitors, riots, etc. It is somewhat alarming how many expect and almost invite a more drastic infringement on their freedoms," Hamblin said in the statement. "My response from the onset of COVID-19 pandemic has been that we will err on the side of freedom."

Eagar is in Apache County, which has 2,471 confirmed COVID-19 cases among a population of about 71,818. Mayor Hamblin is not a smart man, but this is the type of goofiness bordering on criminal negligence that the New York Times romanticized in a recent article.

Such is the way fiercely independent Arizona has handled the virus from the start. [Gov. Doug] Ducey, a pro-business conservative Republican who once ran an ice cream company and is a former state treasurer, has pressed a philosophy of personal responsibility and individual choice. That has largely left individuals in Arizona to decide for themselves whether to go to gyms, churches, rallies — or rodeos.

The Mayans were probably "fiercely independent," as well. It didn't end well for them.

[New York Times]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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