Governor Ducey declared an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency in Arizona last Wednesday.
It might surprise you to know that I think it’s a good thing he ended the public health emergency. Why? Because for the last 14 months he’s been using that public health emergency authority to harm rather than assist with the COVID-19 response.
Remember last spring when he used his PH emergency authority to stop universities and community colleges from implementing sensible mitigation measures. Remember last summer when he misused his authority to stop Tucson from requiring staff to get vaccinated? Remember the micromanagement of K-12 to discourage mask policies? The list is endless.
The one thing in the last year that he’s used his authority for that was productive was an Executive Order allowing temporary health professional licenses to expire on January 1, 2023 (giving temporarily licensed nurses and other health professionals time to apply for and receive a permanent license). Last week he signed S.B. 1309 which put that EO into law.
The only other useful thing he was doing with his emergency authority was to require hospitals to report certain occupancy metrics. That requirement ended with the emergency last Wednesday, but AHCCCS has our back by offering a 0.25% differential adjustment payment for hospitals that continue to report capacity data elements. Doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s enough of an incentive for them to keep reporting weekly metrics.
The end of the state public health emergency also marks the end of all other state regulatory waivers. However federal waivers remain in place until such time as the federal public health emergency ends (or HHS terminates the waivers).
The ADHS Communicable Disease Rules that we established more than a decade ago already include a requirement to report cases of ‘novel coronavirus’ which includes the SARS CoV2 virus.
The long and short of it is that I’m glad the public health emergency declaration is ended because with it ends the authority that Governor Ducey has been using to harm the response.
Note: I don’t often agree with The Arizona Republic columnist Rob Robb… but I’ve been 100% on the same page as him on the matter of Ducey misusing his authority. See this column from last Summer: Gov. Doug Ducey is misusing his emergency power. Time to end it.