A health expert called rising cases in Arizona 'alarming.'
Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) is planning to hold an in-person book signing and campaign fundraiser in here state on Friday, even as coronavirus cases are reaching record levels there.
"Join us on June 12th for a special book signing of Dare to Fly with Martha McSally. Enjoy tacos on the tarmac, Martha-ritas, and receive an autographed copy of Senator McSally's book Dare to Fly," the invitation reads, according to Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, a reporter with the Arizona Republic.
Plans for the fundraiser remain in place even though Arizona's chief health official, Dr. Cara Christ, urged hospitals in a letter sent Saturday to "fully activate" emergency plans because of the increase in coronavirus cases in the state.
A day after Christ sent the letter, Banner Health, the state's largest hospital system, reported that, if current trends continued, the number of patients needing care could exceed its capacity.
A Washington Post analysis from Tuesday showed a sharp uptick in coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the state, from 833 on Memorial Day to 1,243 on Tuesday, a 49% increase.
At the beginning of the month, Arizona had 20,123 confirmed coronavirus cases, and at least 917 people had died. On Thursday, less than two weeks later, the state had 29,981 confirmed coronavirus cases, and at least 1,100 people had died, according to the New York Times.
Dr. William Hanage, an epidemiology professor at Harvard's School of Public Health, told the Arizona Republic on Tuesday that the spike in cases in Arizona is "alarming.
"The only sort of crumb of comfort that I can find is that I think, in general, it's sort of easier to social distance in Arizona than it is in some places," he said.
Health experts told the Republic the increase in cases is not simply the result of more testing, adding that the situation has become so severe that another state-wide stay-at-home order may be necessary.
In mid-May, McSally pushed for businesses to reopen early across the state despite warnings from health experts.
"I got my hair cut on Saturday, got a pedicure on Sunday," McSally said on May 13. "It's time for us to be safely allowing more activities."
Just a day before McSally made those comments, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, issued a stark warning to states during his Senate testimony.
"[T]he consequences could be really serious if cities, states, or what have you, jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up, without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently," Fauci said. "My concern is that we'll start to see little spikes that will turn into outbreaks."
The McSally campaign did not respond to an inquiry about what safety precautions if any it is taking for the fundraiser.
The Arizona Senate race is one of the most closely watched races in the 2020 election cycle. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the U.S. Senate, meaning Democrats need to gain four seats to regain control of the chamber, or gain three seats and win the White House.
McSally lost her Senate bid in 2018 but was appointed to her current job by the state's governor to fill out the remainder of the late Sen. John McCain's term.
She has trailed her Democratic opponent, former astronaut Mark Kelly, in two recent polls, both showing Kelly leading by 13 points.
McSally responded by calling the most recent poll, conducted by Fox News, "stupid."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.