ABC 15 by Dave Biscobing
May 5, 2020
A collection of news organizations, including ABC15 Arizona, is suing the state health department in order to reveal Arizona long-term care facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks.
On Tuesday, ABC15, the Arizona Republic, 12 News, CBS5, and 3TV filed a joint action in Maricopa County Superior Court to obtain the names and locations of facilities with coronavirus cases and deaths.
The Valley media outlets are represented by David Bodney, a long-time First Amendment attorney.
“There is no basis I can see for withholding numbers and locations of COVID-19 incidents from the public,” Bodney told ABC15 in a previous interview. “It’s not only counter to Arizona public records law, it’s contrary to good policy. It really undercuts the public’s right to know in a very fundamental way what its government is up to.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services has repeatedly refused to release the names and locations of long-term care facilities. The department hired outside legal counsel, attorneys Greg Falls and Craig Morgan, to represent them and fight release of the information.
On Tuesday, officials sent a final denial letter in response to ABC15’s public record requests.