Syndication: Arizona Republic

Gov. Doug Ducey speaks alongside his wife, Angela, during the Republican watch party at the DoubleTree Resort in Scottsdale on Nov. 6, 2018. Election Day Midterms

PHOENIX — Federal officials are ordering Arizona to rescind its policy of giving covid dollars only to schools without mask mandates or face having to give back $163 million in aid.

But a top aide to Gov. Doug Ducey is vowing to fight the move.

In a letter Friday, Kathleen Victorino said it is illegal for Gov. Doug Ducey to dole out the cash Arizona is getting from the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund only to public schools that do not mandate that students and staff wear face coverings.

“The purpose of the SLFRF funds is to mitigate the fiscal effects stemming from the COVID-10 public health emergency, including by supporting efforts to spread the virus,’’ wrote Victorino, the deputy chief compliance officer of the U.S. Treasury Office of Recovery Programs, to Ducey’s budget staff.

She pointed out that the Centers for Disease Control recommends universal indoor masking by all students, staff, teachers and visitors to K-12 schools. In fact, she said, the CDC guidance also suggests other strategies, like limiting class sizes.

Instead, Victorino said, Arizona effectively is discouraging schools from taking those steps by withholding federal dollars.

“Accordingly, these school programs as currently structured are ineligible uses of SLFRF funds,’’ she said.

That’s only part of the problem.

While Ducey is using the loss of federal dollars as a stick to coerce schools to abandon mask mandates, he also has set aside $10 million specifically to provide $7,000 payments to parents who want to remove their children from schools that do require face coverings and instead send them to private and parochial schools.

That program is limited to what the governor has called “low-income students.’’ But Ducey defined that as households at or below 350% of the federal poverty level, the equivalent of about $92,750 for a family of four.

Victorino said her agency has “concerns’’ about the claimed objections of benefiting low-income families and students.

She has given the state 60 days to redesign the programs to bring them into compliance with federal law. Otherwise, Victorino said, the government may take steps to recoup the dollars used illegally.

And Treasury has another fiscal weapon at its disposal.

Victorino said her agency may withhold Arizona’s next installment of these federal relief dollars “until Treasury receives information that the issues described above have been adequately addressed.’’

Daniel Ruiz, the governor’s chief of staff, said Friday morning he had not yet seen the letter. But he defended how his boss is using the dollars.

“Ultimately, we’re going to challenge whatever they’ve asserted in the letter,’’ Ruiz said. And he said the state has done nothing sneaky with the dollars, saying it is “above board.’’

The threat to withhold those dollars apparently has had effect on at least some school districts.

“We’re seeing more schools go to mask-optional policies,’’ Ruiz said, though he said that also has been helped by the fact that younger children are now eligible for vaccination. And he said Ducey sees this as catering to what parents want.

“Parents want their kids back in the classroom,’’ he said. “They want to stop talking about masks, they want to start talking about math.’’

He also said parents appreciate the option of a voucher to take their children out of public schools that do maintain the mask requirements, even in the face of a loss of federal dollars.

As it turns out, though, there haven’t been many of them.

Ducey press aide C.J. Karamargin said earlier this month that only 85 families have applied for the $7,000 vouchers, at a cost of $595,000. But he said that the balance of the $10 million the governor set aside remains available to parents even as several Arizona schools have announced plans to impose new mask mandates due to the outbreak of the omicron variant.

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(33) comments

IcePick

lil bOb.

The real Anthony Fauci is full of truth and one of the books made with references to all it's facts. The only way you can be a Fauci fan only if you don't pay attention to what hes been saying.

SedonaBob

“Read The real Anthony Fauci by Robert Kennedy Jr.”

Don’t! Just a few reviews -

“If your family and friends don't hate you and find you tolerable, read this book. You will lose friends and be laughed at by sane people. You might think you sound smart and ‘in the know’ but you will be as knowledgeable as flat-earthers. What are you waiting for, buy the book. Your IQ is not going to lower itself. “

“This is delusional. Pathetic.”

“If you follow what RFK Jr. writes about vaccines, it is full of disinformation, distortion, and lies. How is this any different?”

“Ironic that RFK Jr's advocacy group was one of two major buyers of Facebook anti-vax advertising in 2018-19. This book is just another piece of pseudoscience propaganda to fuel conspiracy theories.”

“Horrible book full of lies”

“It's a hit job and not worth the time. Do something good. Get your vaccine and quit reading anything RFK Jr writes.”

“RFK is a sincere guy, intelligent, consistent, does lots of research. I'm willing to believe he's well-intentioned (but you know what the road to hell is paved with). He's good at what he does. The question is, what is he doing?”

“This book collects lots of facts and then mangles them into misinformation and conspiracy theories. Abuses statistics. Extensive use of guilt-by-association, with a heaping helping of innuendo. Makes lots of statements that can neither be proven nor disproven. Endlessly uses rhetorical devices that sound convincing if you don't have any context or solid background. Multiple pages devoted to Monday-morning quarterbacking, with nifty non-sequiturs as the sauce. In other words, the stock-in-trade of Talk Radio and conspiracy theorists.”

The book DOES have some good ideas in it, and you'll learn some valid stuff if you read it. The problem is the "signal to noise" ratio -- the amount of BS you'll have to detect and ignore in order to find solid information. But even that won't be actionable, in most all cases.

“I swear at it because it doesn't pass my BS tests and it encourages sloppy thinking.

I'm no defender of Fauci, Gates, CDC, FDA, NIH, or any of our ‘leaders.’ But this book is a glorified ‘slam sheet’, a screed demonizing a man who does NOT control the world. It preys on people's lack of information, exploiting their weaknesses to achieve exactly what? Popularity/notoriety for RFK? As far as I can tell, he doesn't have much influence in the places where it would really matter. But he sure does in the places that have no power.”

“This book is a pathetic, ridiculous attempt to discredit science and scientists. Puerile and unsubstantiated arguments, only the very naive readers will buy. Not worth my time or money.

389 people found this helpful.”

“Lies are becoming common due to Trump and people like Kennedy who uses his family name to promote non-science. Millions are alive today because of vaccines. It is only because of vaccines and their ability to prevent harm that gives people the false thought that they do nothing. After all, who really suffers from polio or diphtheria anyway? No one we know. Why, vaccines did their job.”

WendyB

Who are you quoting Bob? Certainly these aren’t your original thoughts. Cite your sources.

IcePick

lil bOb You're a very loyal comrade! Show us a Link to Dr Fauci's Financials. Then look up all his Paten's and list them. The 389 people who found the bad reviews helpful are on Fauci's payroll.

IcePick

Read the Book The real Anthony Fauci by Robert Kennedy Jr

AZ Doc

While there are many things we can do, the bottom line is that it depends on the cooperation of society. I just got back from the grocery store and it appears as though most people simply ignore covid. On the bright side, after everybody has gotten covid, we might be close to herd immunity. On the downside, we're going to lose a lot of health care workers because that sign that says "Heros work here" - the feel like it should say "Victims work here"

simon1dog

AZ DOC - [thumbup]

HavasuGuy

AZ Doc - [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

simon1dog

It was "smart" for communist China to take our ideas regarding fighter jets, stealth submarines, missiles, and satellites, and then utilize them. Russia did the same. For some to think that it'd be unsmart for the United States to not emulate the successful things that China and Russia has accomplished is not intelligent thinking. The easiest path to success is by emulating those who are successful. Business or Economics 101.

Middle of the Road

Seriously?? The right path is not always the easiest. Emulating, or invention? Emulating or new successes. On this, we differ in opinion. It's "not intelligent" or "unsmart" to think that the US has highly intelligent, and forward-thinking people, that can get to a solution. Why do you think China and Russia emulated the US on some pretty intelligent equipment?? You sort of made my point.

HavasuGuy

Way to “own the libs” Ducey!

Middle of the Road

Can't believe people on here that are looking to Communist China for answers. One lie after another, and you trust them??? Wow, this country is in trouble.

simon1dog

Smart people emulate other smart people regardless of creed, color, or race. It's evident that you don't follow that philosophy.

Middle of the Road

Damn straight I don't.

WendyB

Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Moussolini, and Pol Pot were all “smart” people who were very successful at what they did- kill millions of people-mostly their own. Should we “emulate” them based on your criteria Simon1dog?

HavasuGuy

Isn’t that what tRUMP did?

SedonaBob

Chinese hospitals overflowing with COVID-19 patients a few weeks ago now have empty beds. Trials of experimental drugs are having difficulty enrolling enough eligible patients. And the number of new cases reported each day has plummeted over the past few weeks.

The report is unequivocal. "China's bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic," it says. "This decline in COVID-19 cases across China is real."

The question now is whether the world can take lessons from China's apparent success—and whether the massive lockdowns and electronic surveillance measures imposed by an authoritarian government would work in other countries. Bruce Aylward, a Canadian WHO epidemiologist said, "Hundreds of thousands of people in China did not get COVID-19 because of this aggressive response."

simon1dog

SedonaBob - [thumbup]

Middle of the Road

Screw China.

WendyB

It’s about time you came out of your communist closet and express your true philosophy. This was getting old.

SedonaBob

Pay up! Don't follow the rules and this is what happens. Meanwhile fools in our backward state keep believing BS and dying. Good job!

Middle of the Road

I agree pay up, don't owe this administration a dime, you'll be better off!

simon1dog

Here's the Chinese mask article for those wanting the truth. This man is one of China's top scientists. https://www.science.org/content/article/not-wearing-masks-protect-against-coronavirus-big-mistake-top-chinese-scientist-says. For those not seeking the truth, 'Jim the bartender' will be giving his anti-mask spiel on Monday thru Friday. More people around town seem to quote Jim than professional opinions.

Middle of the Road

By all means, China is the largest mask producer in the world, even our US government wears masks made in China. How much longer are we going to be beholden to China??? Take the politics out of it, really, we want to listen to China??

simon1dog

Not wearing masks to protect against coronavirus is a ‘big mistake,' top Chinese scientist says: George Gao, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, offers insights from the front. I'll take what this guy has to say since it's working over there.

simon1dog

You can find any info you want regarding this. Masks work if "everyone" uses them. They're working along with vaccinations in China.

XXX

It’s nothing more than propaganda by the ccp. You do understand that the ccp controls everything that is put out by their government controlled media and others.

Middle of the Road

You're right, masks work, but I'm not about to put a mask from China on my face, they have already given us the gift that keeps on giving!!

mjstravelingnotarysignings

Masks don’t work. That is just another commie ploy. Let’s Fight against the Feds…AZ Fight hard for our Freedom of Choice!!!

“Your”welcome

Anyang is the third city in China to enter a strict COVID lockdown, as the struggling country continues to impose harsh rules on millions of residents in a bid to stop transmission of the highly contagious Omicron variant in the community.

“Mum and dad will wait for you to come home!” the text attached to the video says, reflecting the devastating circumstances facing families in the country.

A second video shows a large sum of children also being ushered away, with Fang Shimin claiming the children were being led away to “concentration camps for isolation”.

Anyang city is located in the Henan province where schools have been closed following the emergence of at least two Omicron cases, according to local media.

“Your”welcome

As cases continued to surge, Xi'an further tightened lockdown measures on Monday, requiring all residents to stay at home unless permitted to go outside for mass testing. Previously, each household was allowed to send one designated person out to buy groceries every two days.

On Chinese social media platform Weibo, some Xi'an residents complained Tuesday they were running out of groceries at home.

"Can anyone save me?" a user asked. "I'm about to starve at home. There was no one taking my orders online ... Please help me. It's OK if it's expensive, I just want to have some groceries. I'm desperate."

simon1dog

Chinese students seem to have no problem with masks.

Middle of the Road

It's a communist country, really? I'm sure they have no problem, because they have been threatened and indoctrinated.

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