In March, four Republican state legislators in Arizona took a selfie inside a Phoenix bar pointing to a clock showing the time was 8:15 p.m. They were bragging about staying out past the 8 p.m. closing time for bars and restaurants that the city mandated to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Flash-forward to June: Arizona state lawmakers have lifted all restrictions on businesses, and the state is now seeing its highest weekly average of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began months ago.
And Arizona is not alone. Texas and Florida are also reporting record high hospitalizations and positive COVID-19 cases—according to public health experts, all because of early reopenings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently predicted the U.S. death toll could reach up to 150,000 by July 18.
These three Sunbelt states have something else in common: Republicans control both houses of the state legislature, as well as the governor’s seat, meaning there is no check on the partisan blitz to reopen the economy at the cost of the public’s health.
But that could change this November. The data shows that Democrats have a clear path to breaking these GOP trifectas and winning a state legislative majority in the three states.