Editorial: Governor weighs lives vs. livelihoods on call to re-open state

Few folks would relish being in the shoes of Gov. Doug Ducey this week. The governor is staring right in the face of his own self-imposed deadline for easing the economic restrictions placed on Arizona businesses.

Ducey has to weigh two of the most basic human needs when he makes the call on whether to open the state back up this week: lives vs. livelihoods.

On a statewide level, we are by no means out of the COVID-19 woods. Arizona continues to add more than 200 new positive coronavirus cases daily. This week, the state most certainly will reach 7,000 active cases and 300 deaths.

Further, as we reported last week, recovery from COVID-19 is a long and arduous process. Derek Feuquay, chief medical officer for Flagstaff Medical Center, last week said COVID-19 symptoms can linger on with infected patients for weeks and even months. Those weeks, even months, represent the time frame these patients can spread the virus to other people.

The flip-side of the severity of coronavirus can best be seen right here in the Verde Valley and Yavapai County. Our numbers have basically held steady for weeks. The daily county report shows 75 active cases, give or take a few, with one death and six recoveries. The Verde Valley caseload has held steady at 24 cases for several weeks.

In other words, we could be the perfect test case for Arizona in easing restrictions. The problem with that, though, is we can’t build fortress walls around the Verde Valley to keep potentially infected outsiders out. Case in point was the VI Facebook weekend report on the droves of people congregating at Slide Rock and Oak Creek Canyon. Spring Fever obviously prevailed over coronavirus, but just one look at the photos and video tells you that the fun and games in Oak Creek flew in the face of the state’s mandated health-safety protocols.

Certainly there is tension at every level over the decision facing the governor this week. Any level-headed person has to respect the sentiment on both sides of this debate. People are dying. People are also dying to go back to work.

These are powerful forces at odds with each other. Lives vs. livelihoods.

The pressure on Gov. Ducey, no doubt, is enormous.

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