Watchdog’s New Report Highlights State Leaders’ Failures that Accelerated New COVID-19 Outbreaks in Texas, Arizona, Florida

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the heels of recent studies proving far and away the efficacy of wearing masks and continuing social distancing procedures to stop the spread of COVID-19, states that refused to mandate such safety protocols are now seeing significant spikes in coronavirus cases.

A new report by government watchdog Accountable.US shows that record-high one-day increases in new COVID-19 cases in Arizona, Florida, and Texas come less than a month after state leaders hastily pushed businesses to reopen and refused to require face masks to be worn in public.

These disastrous decisions by governors inevitably mean an unnecessary loss of life and further harm to state and local economies. Meanwhile, reporting in USA Today revealed that Health Secretary Alex Azar wanted to shift blame for the coronavirus case spikes to immigrants passing through the southern border, asking in one internal document, “Could we be seeing the after effects of cinco de mayo (sic)?”

“State leaders who fail to require the use of face masks are relying on wishful thinking, not scientific evidence, to guide them in governing. That’s not going to keep people safe,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “We know that wearing masks and social distancing helps prevent the virus from spreading. Refusing to ensure that people follow these basic safety measures needlessly puts vulnerable people’s lives at risk and will only further lengthen the public health crisis.”

The report includes the following details on states that are now seeing record high rates of COVID-19:

  • Since February 2020, Florida has been denying the severity of COVID-19 in its state and has largely conducted business as usual — even going so far as to reportedly fudge the number of positive cases in the state and fire an official who refused to deflate the data.
  • Less than a month after incorrectly declaring Florida a “coronavirus success story,” Governor Ron DeSantis allowed restaurants and retail stores to allow 50% capacity and gyms to reopen without requiring face masks.
    • Florida has now reported a new daily record high of 3,494 new confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  • In early May, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey allowed gyms, spas and community swimming pools to reopen, ended its lockdown, and did not require masks to be worn in public.
    • The state recorded its highest single-day increase of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic less than a month later.
  • In late May and early June, many businesses and events were allowed to reopen in Texas without a state requirement to wear face masks — including rodeo events, bowling alleys, bingo halls, water parks, and amusement parks.
    • Less than a month later, Texas cases surged 11% in a single day — hitting the state’s hospitals with a new high of COVID-19 infections in patients.

Read the full report here.

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