Ducey has recommended that people wear masks in public to combat the spread of the coronavirus, but he has refused to impose a statewide mandate, leaving it to local mayors to decide whether to penalize people for not wearing them.
“I am in favor of masks,” Ducey said during a press conference Wednesday. “I want to see all Arizonans wearing face coverings.”
The Ducey administration has also suggested that increased testing may be behind the surge in new cases.
Marcy Flanagan, director of Arizona’s Maricopa County Department of Public Health, insisted last week that “these increases are not due just to an increase in testing that is occurring.”
State Rep. Kelli Butler, the Democrats’ ranking member on Arizona’s House Health Committee, echoed Flanagan.
“While the COVID-19 crisis in Arizona is becoming one of the worst in the world, we’ve seen Gov. Ducey and his staff spending more time trying to deflect criticism and spar with health experts and reporters than work on actual solutions to mitigate the spread of disease,” Butler said. “With President Trump scheduled to visit Arizona next week, I do wonder if the governor is doing more right now to please Trump than keep Arizonans safe.”
NBC News has reached out to Ducey’s spokesman Patrick Ptak for comment, but has not received a response.
DeSantis, Abbott and Ducey are all Republicans and strong supporters of President Donald Trump, who has taken heat for his administration’s slow response to the pandemic.
Trump did not declare a national emergency until March 13. And so far, about 118,000 people in the United States have been killed by the virus.
The president has also been pushing for a quick reopening of the economy. Over the objections of local health officials, Trump intends to hold a rally Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It will be his first since the country was shuttered to combat the coronavirus.
Vice President Mike Pence has praised Oklahoma for being “at the forefront of our efforts to slow the spread.” He also made the false claim that Oklahoma under the leadership of Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican and a Trump supporter, has “flattened the curve.”
But Oklahoma health officials reported a state-high daily total of 259 cases Tuesday and 76 of those were in Tulsa, the Tulsa World reported.
“Any rational person looking at any large grouping of people would have concerns about this weekend,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, a Republican, said.
Louisiana is also seeing a recent spike in new COVID-19 cases. Other states where COVID-19 cases continue to be on the rise are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming, along with the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.