Carmona wants Arizona’s focus on public health, not politics, in fight against COVID-19

Sep 16, 2021, 11:45 AM | Updated: 11:48 am
(AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)...
(AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)
(AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)

PHOENIX — When Dr. Richard Carmona joined Arizona’s COVID-19 response team as an adviser late last month, one of his first goals was to shift the conversation about the pandemic.

The former U.S. surgeon general wanted bickering over mask and vaccine mandates to stop and instead have Arizonans focused on getting vaccinated and practicing mitigation strategies.

Carmona knows the task won’t be an easy one, but a good conversation with Gov. Doug Ducey has him believing proper messaging can steer Arizonans toward public health and away from politics.

“None of them are productive as far as protecting our citizens and that’s what our responsibility is,” Carmona told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad on Wednesday. “[Ducey] agreed and I said let’s agree on something together.

“Let’s you and I be aligned on telling everybody they need to be vaccinated and telling everybody that they need to practice appropriate public health mitigation strategies, not only for their health but for the economic viability and health of our state.”

Debates over the necessity and legality of mask and vaccine mandates have been swirling in Arizona in recent months, even as cases and deaths continue to rise due to the delta variant.

Ducey has led the charge against those mandates, reiterating his anti-mandate stance that has caught the ire of school leaders, Democrats and others.

It’s the kind of standoff Carmona wants to avoid, as he wrote in a blog post Wednesday for the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Only 50.5% of the population in Arizona is fully vaccinated, trailing the nationwide rate of 54.1%, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Arguing over the politics of this has gotten us nowhere,” Carmona said. “The public, if they choose, have remedies to be able to address things they don’t agree with with the Legislature or the governor.

“But for me, those are not productive conversations when people are sick and dying.”

Carmona said he’s received input from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Banner Health and others.

He expects to have more conversations and develop communication strategies soon on a plan he considers a “tough” ask.

“We want our stadiums to be open. We want to go to football games. We want our restaurants to be open. We want to stop unemployment,” Carmona said.

“The best way to get there is to vaccinate and practice these public health mitigation strategies.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, voters stand in line outside a polling station, o...
Associated Press

QAnon figure Ron Watkins says he’s running for Congress in Arizona

Ron Watkins, a prolific promoter of false conspiracies about the 2020 election who is closely tied to the QAnon movement, says he is running for Congress as a Republican in Arizona.
19 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Peoria Police Department)...

18-year-old man dead after gun accidentally discharged in Peoria

An 18-year-old man died after a friend accidentally shot him in the chest while cleaning a gun in Peoria, authorities said Thursday.
19 hours ago
( Screenshot)...
Kevin Stone

Here’s how to make sense of changes to Arizona’s COVID-19 dashboard

The Arizona Department of Health Services rolled out a variety of changes to how it presents data on its COVID-19 dashboard this week, some that could be confusing without further explanation.
19 hours ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Associated Press

Judge again rules Arizona Senate’s election review records to be made public

A judge has rejected the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate’s contention that it can withhold a raft of communications between its leaders and private contractors they hired to conduct an unprecedented review of the 2020 election results in the state’s most populous county.
19 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/The University of Arizona)...
Kevin Stone

ASU, UArizona, NAU announce COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employees

Arizona’s three public universities announced Friday they will be requiring most employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8.
19 hours ago
(Screenshot/City of Tempe YouTube)...

Explosion, fatal house fire in Tempe ruled ‘not accidental’

Authorities in Tempe said Friday an explosive house fire where two women were found dead this week was not accidental but stopped short of supplying any other conclusions.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
Chris Kennedy

My Special Aflac Duck® taking flight in Arizona

For more than 65 years, Aflac has had the extraordinary opportunity and privilege to help provide peace of mind to individuals who have our supplemental insurance policies.

More stroke patients eligible for acute treatment, thanks to research

Historically, patients underwent acute stroke treatments according to strict time guidelines. But thanks to recent advancements in stroke research, more patients are becoming candidates for clot-busting drugs and endovascular therapy at specialized centers like Barrow Neurological Institute.
Carmona wants Arizona’s focus on public health, not politics, in fight against COVID-19