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As COVID death toll nears 200K, Az groups point to GOP’s 'lack of leadership'

A small group of people with Progressive Democrats of America and the community group Living United for Change Arizona descended on the Arizona Republican Party headquarters in Phoenix on Thursday to draw attention to the thousands of lives lost during the pandemic.

Patti Serrano, chair of the Greater Phoenix chapter of Progressive Democrats of America, said the mortal toll of COVID-19, which is nearing 200,000 deaths nationwide, could've been prevented by President Donald Trump and Gov. Doug Ducey, both Republicans.

"That is 200,000 beating hearts, voices, laughs, hugs, smiles … gone," Serrano said.

In Arizona, 5,409 people have died due to COVID-19 related complications, according to Arizona Department of Health Services data as of Sept. 17. The U.S. passed the 100,000 death toll in late May.

"Trump touts that he is doing a tremendous job and this will all disappear, while Arizona's governor talks about masks but continues to attend events without them, and leaves our schools to figure it out on their own," Serrano said. "This lack of leadership only hurts our community."

Ducey recently told Trump, who visited Phoenix on Monday, that "there's a lot of good things happening in our state." Trump in turn, told Ducey he has done "the right thing" and a "great job" when it comes to pandemic response.

Serrano also read a statement from Kristin Urquiza, a Phoenix resident and founder of the group of Marked by COVID to honor her father Mark Urquiza, who died from COVID-19 on June 30.

"We have a duty to those who have already been lost due to this administration's willful neglect and to the rest of us who are still living under it to fight back and stop this administration's reign of terror on our community," she said.

State Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Glendale, said most of the deaths should have been avoided. He added that the blame for the spread of the deadly virus "falls squarely" on Republicans, who control the state legislature and executive branch.

"Arizonans continue to be impacted by this pandemic and our leaders have flat out failed us," Quezada said. "It is time to move away from the self-serving philosophies of this party right here and reimagine a new Arizona and a new United States that works for everybody, that keeps us healthy and respects our lives and our humanity and I'm here to help us get there."

Quezada, who represents parts of west Phoenix and Glendale, said he has seen the pandemic not only hit his constituents, but family members as well.

"It is also very clear that these deaths disproportionately impact communities of color, immigrants, the low-income community, the very people of Maryvale and Glendale that I serve in district 29," he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people of color "might be more likely to become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, experience more severe COVID-19–associated illness, including that requiring hospitalization, and have higher risk for death from COVID-19."

About one in three people who have died because of COVID-19 complications in Arizona are Latino, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services. One in three Arizonans identify as Latino. The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Native communities when it comes to mortality. While about 4% of the state's population is Native, they account for 11% of the COVID-19 related deaths, according to ADHS data.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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Laura Gómez/Arizona Mirror

Patti Serrano, chair of the Greater Phoenix chapter of Progressive Democrats of America, speaks outside the main offices of the Arizona Republican Party on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 to draw attention to the nearly 200,000 lives lost to COVID-19 nationally


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