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Ducey: Troops needed for more than grocery help, state ‘catastrophically affected’ by COVID-19

Arizona governor Doug Ducey, center, talks to Matt Heckard, left, assistant director of preparedness, with the State of Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA) as members of DEMA work responding to the coronavirus pandemic, in the DEMA operations center at the Arizona National Guard Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Major General Michael T. McGuire (background right) the director of DEMA, looks on. (David Wallace/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

Arizona governor Doug Ducey, center, talks to Matt Heckard, left, assistant director of preparedness, with the State of Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA) as members of DEMA work responding to the coronavirus pandemic, in the DEMA operations center at the Arizona National Guard Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Major General Michael T. McGuire (background right) the director of DEMA, looks on. (David Wallace/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

Gov. Doug Ducey wants federal dollars and an expanded role for the Arizona National Guard, saying the citizens, economy and infrastructure of the state have been “catastrophically affected” by COVID-19.

“The State of Arizona resources are being overwhelmed and additional federal funding is critical,” Ducey wrote in a letter Friday to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. “This event has caused and continues to cause widespread effects (both known and unknown).”

The governor’s letter went out the same day that he and Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire had a press conference to explain the role that Guard troops, called out by Ducey the day before, would play.

Both emphasized that they were there for logistical support, largely to help restock the shelves of grocery stores that had been stripped bare of many items by people who were hoarding.

“We can do big-scale logistics,” said McGuire, the adjutant general of the Arizona National Guard. He said that particularly means moving large quantities of food “that final mile” between warehouses and grocery stores.

What was not mentioned at the time was that Ducey was telling Esper that he foresees the need for up to 5,500 troops and an even larger role for the Guard, including:

▪ providing hazmat protective equipment to hospitals which now have “inadequate and uni-sized protective gear;”

▪ assembly and preparation of field hospitals to treat those with non-COVID-19 conditions to allow hospitals to focus on those with the novel coronavirus;

▪ provide a reserve of medical providers.

But Ducey said it may not stop there, saying troops could provide “additional assistance (which) may also include future support to local law enforcement.

The governor said, though, duties would include those “not impeded by Posse Comitatus.

That 1878 law prohibits the use of the military to enforce the law or suppress civil disorder unless expressly ordered to do so by the president. But the governor said that those limitations do not apply when Guard troops are “under state command and control.”

Ducey did not explain what role he wants them to play but only that they are needed — and the federal government should come up with some cash.

“The citizens, economy and infrastructure of the state of Arizona catastrophically affected by COVID-19 ultimately affects the citizens, economy and infrastructure of the nation,” the governor wrote. And he said that without federal funding “Arizona will be incapable of quelling the risk to the state and nation.”

Gubernatorial press aide Patrick Ptak denied late Sunday that his boss was withholding information from the public about conditions in Arizona or the role Ducey wants the Guard to play.

“This letter is intended to secure an offset from the federal government for National Guard activity here in the state,” he said. And Ptak denied that his boss is either not telling the whole story to Arizona residents or to the Pentagon whose dollars he is seeking.

“We’ve been straightforward about what we expect them to do,” he said, calling the letter and the verbiage “something we have to do” to draw down federal dollars.

“The governor has been very transparent about Arizona’s COVID-19 response, including daily press briefings last week,” Ptak said.

When Ducey wrote the letter to Esper he told the Pentagon chief that Arizona had 44 confirmed cases and no known deaths. As of Sunday afternoon that number had reached 152 with two deaths.

10 comments

  1. Quarantine AZ to stop the spread. This is necessary. Close all non essential business.

  2. We have lots of newly unemployed people due to business closures. Why not use them to transport and stock grocery shelves? The economy is our second biggest concern in the pandemic, and the Governor should be leading the attempts to keep as many Arizonans employed as possible. It seems Ducey has dropped the ball here.

  3. The economic devastation caused by our fear of the virus will be with us long after COVID19 is long forgotten.

  4. Don’t we realize coronavirus and influenza are seasonal illnesses? What do you have planned for next years cold and flu season? Are we going to ruin the economy every year now for the average seasonal cold and flu viruses? We do realize that there are far more deadly viruses out there that kill millions every year and millions of people become newly infected every year; Ever hear of AIDS for example? Politics and money, this year billions of dollars are being misappropriated for an illness (human coronavirus) that in years prior, healthy but infected people were sent home from the doctors for rest and told to drink plenty of water. perhaps you were prescribed medications like tamiflu, but usually cough drops and theraflu or robitussin was what we went home with. A seasonal illness that doesn’t even deserve its own charity. We can be responsible for ourselves. Yes, people who have compromised immune systems and health issues should stay home and away from people, but they need to do that on a regular basis because even a simple paper cut from a dollar bill could render them dead from infection. Healthy people with strong immune systems have to keep the world running in spite of risk of a stuffy nose and upper respiratory infection, because as in years past with plenty of water and rest, we recover. Statewide quarantine is not a sustainable answer.

  5. Gee, maybe the idiot governor should issue a stay in place order, to flatten the curve and help prevent overwhelming our hospitals. What a novel idea. Duh.

  6. Mandatory Quarantine just like the other states have mandated, to keep everyone safe!

  7. Please provide a mandatory quarantine for at least 2weeks the number of deaths and those effected is increasing at rapid numbers everyday. With deaths and sickness the economy will crash even harder if you don’t slow things down. Arizona is a highly populated state with people who aren’t taking the matter seriously and those of us still required to work and risk lives of others and ourselves.

  8. Those of you agreeing with the ludicrous MANDATORY quarantine…those of you siding with the nefarious agenda of GOVERNMENT…are putting the rest of us at risk for things that are far worse than this orchestrated “pandemic”. However, you are too far gone into the brain wash and too blind to see it despite the fact that it is as clear as day. Our rights are being stripped away and they will NOT be returned. People have been following the orders of government and doing what they need to do, many at the loss of their jobs and to the distress of their families. NO MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE. LEAVE THE PEOPLE ALONE. Those of us who are awake will be glad to keep a distance from the rest of you who have fallen prey to the fear-mongering of a media that has been bought and sold. I’ve had enough of this nonsense and people are waking up to what is going on here.

  9. Mandate a quarantine . He is putting us all at risk by not doing so. He is missing the obvious.

  10. Are you kidding me governor your staying at home order has not changed anything from what we are currently doing! You got on TV changed some words to make it look like your doing something and you are not! Change your lists of essential businesses. Golf courses and nail salons give me a break issue a full lock down to stop the spread your not doing anything to help with this pandemic what is this population control change your stay at home order to be mandatory before we end up like New York

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