We’re about to go into the fourth quarter of the year. That’s seven months since the Governor’s first executive order in reaction to the outbreak of Corona Virus/Covid-19. Remember: At the State and National levels, the orders to close businesses and stay 6-feet apart from each other were to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. That has changed over time to “slowing the spread” and other treading phrases. Sadly, the efforts to find the cause, prevention, and potential cure for the virus were invaded by politics and political views. Event reporting of virus statistics have been skewed. This has made too many of us question what is fact and fiction, and has made the “mask/no-mask” debate go from civil discussion to outright hostility in some areas of the country. Let me tell you things from recent weeks.
First, a little perspective: Since March, I have participated in 2-5 weekly updates from the Governor and his office, our US Congressional delegation, CDC, Small Business Administration, and with other experts. I have expressed the need to treat every business and every person fairly, to keep politics out of the virus response, and called out bad decisions when necessary. A specific example was he Governor’s July 27 executive order against bars with a specific liquor license, gyms, and water parks. There were other business association executives who agreed that was an unfair order and appeared to be driven by politics.
Over recent weeks, my counterparts throughout the country have reported incidents of public shouting matches, fist fights, hostile social media posting and business reviews (it’s called “flaming”), and worse. One Chamber executive said people in her city are calling the police on each other and businesses that seem to violate the virus regulations. Another was flamed on social media for holding an in-person event and accused of “spreading the virus” even though they followed established guidelines.
The choice to begin in-person activities requires meeting government guidelines, anticipated participation from Members, ensuring safety of attendees and staff, available liability coverage, and reduction of any potential risk. Members regularly give me their opinions about in-person events. It’s an even split between the “yes” and “no” responses. It’s the same percentage when asked about the necessity of wearing a mask. Many stated they wouldn’t attend any events until virus counts go down or a vaccine is available. There’s also the consideration of ensuring the location complies with government regulations. This includes the Chamber office and Visitor Information Center. So you’re aware, many of the State’s Visitors Information Centers remain closed because of the strict virus guidelines.
I continue to monitor the virus situation and government regulations as it relates to Chamber of Commerce activities. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has a formal meeting on October 7. Whether or not a review of the county’s mask mandate will be on the agenda has yet to be determined. Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) has the county designated as a high case count for the virus. Governor Ducey hasn’t held a virus briefing in several weeks nor has his staff shared any new information. Some or much of what transpired over the past seven month could have been avoided had the State Legislature resumed their session earlier in the year.
The Chamber, along with many other associations and corporations, believes there will be significant change within the next three months. The Chamber is planning for a bold future whether the virus threat has been eliminated or if we have to adapt to get things moving again. Limping along as our economy has been doing isn’t helping enough people and certainly not the community. We need to get money circulating and need to bring in more dollars from outside the area. I also hope the future will have common sense replace political motives at the State and Federal levels. Members can rely on the Chamber to be their voice in government, provide resources, and offer opportunities to help you reach your business goals.
Until there’s a change with government guidelines, the Chamber will continue to serve virtually and by appointment. Expect another update when the government’s virus restrictions are adjusted.