AP featured image
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at a roundtable during an event to salute U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Less than 24 hours from now, the state of Arizona will take the national spotlight, with Vice President Mike Pence making a stop in Phoenix to visit Republican Governor Doug Ducey. But a story even hotter than the Valley of the Sun’s 100-plus-degree, summer temperatures is percolating locally and might soon bubble up to national news headlines. It stems from a new Executive Order the governor announced in the latest, COVID-19 press conference Monday afternoon, closing all bars, fitness clubs, and tubing rentals, among other businesses, for the next 30 days.

This was despite the urging of caution from local, conservative GOP leaders. On Tuesday, State Rep. Kelly Townsend published a press release, urging Gov. Ducey to call the legislature into a special session to revoke the sweeping order.

Rep. Andy Biggs also took to Twitter over the weekend and rightly pointed to a major dip in hospitalizations and deaths here, just since the start of June:

But unfortunately, much like Southern California’s “beach-goers problem,” mainstream media coverage has fixated on images of people enjoying their lives in Arizona, including hanging out at bars in tourist-friendly Scottsdale or tubing down Phoenix’s Salt River, like in this wire service story from Sunday:

So, it seems that, under pressure from media accounts of “dangerous” activities like these – instead of, you know, looters and rioters – causing the reported spike in cases of the Chinese plague, Gov. Ducey chose to once again pull back some of Arizonans’ freedoms — just as Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day:

On Monday night, in response to the governor’s order that gyms be closed at 8 p.m. local time, Tom Hatten, the founder and CEO of Mountainside Fitness health clubs, made an announcement of his own — he’s suing Gov. Ducey and has no plans to close his company’s doors in compliance with the new order.

Mountainside Fitness has 18 locations across the Phoenix metro area; the chain’s homepage lists two more locations as “coming soon.”

Gyms in Arizona were allowed to re-opened May 13, after being closed under Ducey’s first, COVID-19 related E.O. on March 20, KTAR reported.

Hatten, speaking at a press conference at one of the gym’s locations, told reporters, in part:

“I asked the governor, ‘Where’s the proof that this decision came from any evidence of what’s happening in any health club here in Arizona or across the country?’

We’ve taken this situation, this virus, extremely seriously, trying to handle and maneuver an employee base of just under 1,500 people and keep them employed for the last two months….

My call to you today, to have you all here, isn’t just about health clubs; it’s about business and civil liberties….”

The CEO mentioned that several types of businesses included in the order, like movie theaters, aren’t even open.

He continued: (emphasis mine)

“[T]oday, the governor closed tubing, which is open once a day [sic], and he closed health clubs. This could be any business, any time, anywhere.”

In announcing the lawsuit, which was expected to be filed Tuesday morning, Hatten said that other “partners in the health club industry” would be a part of it.

Then Hatten pinpointed what may be the governor’s motivation to make what Hatten calls an “arbitrary decision” to close some businesses and not others:

“If the governor is serious about what is going on, then I say, “Governor Ducey, close everything. Don’t choose. Don’t make an arbitrary decision on what you think will look good to the media.”

You can watch Hatten’s full statement below, via Fox 10 Phoenix:

 

Becca Lower
Becca Lower is a writer with RedState and formerly worked at IJR.com as a writer and editor. She grew up outside Cincinnati, OH, in former Speaker John Boehner's district, and currently lives in Mesa, AZ.

Find her on Twitter at @BeccaJLower. Direct all tips/marriage proposals: [email protected]
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