For a few weeks it seemed like it might be okay. I was getting my hair and nails done, seeing my dentist, doing yoga outside with a few pals, and not having to wait in line outside Trader Joe’s. It really seemed like things were better and most people were respectfully distanced and masked. I was holding on to the belief that we were somehow different down here in the Southwest. But I woke up one morning to the sickening reality that I was going to have to file a restraining order on my life (or my state). It was over. Arizona became a giant Covid epicenter, a hotspot, a viral explosion. Out-of-state friends were calling me with concern — no one cared that people were not wearing masks, kids were bar hopping, and the numbers were skyrocketing.
I want more than just a divorce. Our Governor Doug Ducey decided to ignore his committee of health experts from ASU and U of A who warned him not to open for at least two weeks while we leveled off in infection rates. That was two months ago. He opened phase one and five days later we were in phase three. We started at 10,000 confirmed cases and 500 deaths. We are now at 85,000 confirmed cases and over 1,700 deaths (as of Thursday, July 2). And the numbers are climbing. Our hospitals and ICUs are filled.
Call it “herd,” call it hell! Our testing has increased, but that is not the reason for the high numbers. Younger people are now the new hospital patients! Our Governor Ducey is now being called Governor Douche or Douche bag by Republicans and Democrats alike. The natives are restless, and he refuses to pause our state (like the other “opening” disaster twins — Texas and Florida), or even give daily press conferences. Our state is “in a state”; and at best it is all embarrassing. At worst, it is devastating.
Arizona was never a political epicenter. We were considered “the Wild West” and home of the rootin’ tootin’ cowboys – like Barry Goldwater and John McCain. Arizonans just wanted land, lotsa land, under sunny skies above.
But then we went off the grid with Evan Meacham who was impeached as governor after serving one term in 1988, for “misuse of funds” and cronyism.
We also made news then with Meacham’s cancelling of MLK day. Next up was Fife Symington who had to resign his governorship for bank fraud (1995). Are you getting the picture? We did have Rose Mofford, the first woman governor known for her giant beehive hairdo and a quick appearance on SNL. At least she finished her term unscathed. Our colorful former Sherriff Joe Arpaio recently tried running for Governor but frankly he came with serious pistol packing problems and has since faded from view (but not without the world wondering about Arizona and politics).
So now we have morphed into one of THE problem children of the nation. At least Texas and Florida are trying to “walk back” their insane reopening. Vegas now has mandatory mask laws which is killing off casino traffic and they may have to partially close. But crickets from our Governor Douchey other than a “warning” to a Phoenix downtown disco (are they still called discos?) and some strange strip clubs. Is that cutting back to phase one, or any phase, or merely a FAZE! Finally, some local Zona City Mayors demanded masks becoming mandatory, but NOT Governor Douchey.
There was a protest in Scottsdale last week … not about BLM or statue destruction, but an anti-mask movement organized by Scottsdale City Councilman Guy Phillips (currently running again for office). During his speech, he ripped off his mask and screamed “I can’t breathe” to a cheering crowd. He made national prime time news and then had to apologize to the George Floyd family and the world. Meanwhile Gov Douchey called Phillips “despicable” and he insisted “Phillips had no place in public office.” Now look who’s talking. So now we are off and running spreading mayhem in a state that was in a political coma for most of its 135 years.
This will now become the Summer from Hell as we go coast to coast “state shaming” each other comparing “outbreaks,” case numbers, and openings and closings. For four months, we in the southwest wagged our fingers at New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as they struggled in viral risings. At least we felt relieved it wasn’t us and we prided in our great medical establishment who we were sure was ready, willing and able.
Now the East has regained some control after some draconian regulations, and we are sinking. But we stand to look like “the storm before the storm” as the East starts to open and deal with July 4th and those scary post-protest numbers which should start showing July 1st. I hope they don’t end up like us. Many of us were cautious at first when we opened (some of us never “opened” and have maintained our own form of isolating in place) and then ended up blowing it with our hubris and stupidity in thinking we were “back to normal” and that the virus was gone.
The truth is there is no “back to normal.” The virus is never gone. You don’t need Fauci to tell you as much. But who wants to hear that when there are beaches to go to, barbecues to attend and maybe just carry a mask in your pocket to use for fake concern.
It’s clear we are all hanging by a desperate thread for the next four weeks. And some of us have the nightly fireworks to deal with (especially now that all summer fireworks are banned due to our “extreme fire danger” ordinance — but are still available at stores everywhere!)
And let’s not even talk about Biden or Trump — now it’s the state governors and city mayors who have come up as front and center punching bags. Who knew or cared about any of them four months ago? “No leadership” has become a hackneyed understatement. Vladimir Putin recently gave a “heartfelt” speech about his concerned feeling for Trump and his handling of Covid. At least he looked respectable if not powerfully in control (until 2036!). How frustrating it is that we have no charismatic national leaders to turn to.
At this point even Tom Selleck seems “presidential” in his heavily rotated mortgage AAG commercials. I’ll even vote for William Devane plugging his gold coin pitch. How desperate I’ve become watching too much TV. But Selleck and Devane give me hope and calm amidst all this tumult and narcissistic chaos.
Meanwhile my cosmetician is becoming a professional Covid contact tracker and tracking will become one of the most important aspects to viral control. And watch as more people leave their jobs to get involved in public health — a good thing! In all of this Covid mania, I still do hear about “bubble Covid parties.” People who want to stay in their safe and sound “bubble” with no Covid reports are settling in high end locations providing deluxe posh parties and card gambling get-a-ways along with their private trainers and masseuses.
A pal of mine attended one bubble party and said she felt awful when she got back in her car and saw her mask dangling from her rearview mirror. “It really wasn’t escapist fun … it felt like “fiddling while Rome burns.” The mantra there is “as long as I don’t know anyone who has it … it doesn’t exist.” Until you do. And then who you gonna call … Ghostbusters?
Clearly, we are struggling in all 50 states “to find a more perfect union.” Remember that? So, we are dismantling statuary to redefine our identity of that perfect union. But will that stop at Disneyland? Last week a rumor surfaced that the famous statues of Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse’s hand might come down. But why? Walt was rumored to be a racist and an anti-Semite. But Mickey? Really? I guess I always saw Mickey as an example of the American “free to be you and me“ best? Not to mention the biggest marketing tool of all time!
Oh no! Is nothing sacred?