Gov. Doug Ducey urged Arizonans to take responsible actions to help contain the spread of the coronavirus — limit time away from home, practice social distancing, wear a mask and follow health guidance from the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control.
This statement came at a briefing June 25 on the latest status of the pandemic. Ducey was joined by Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ and Maj. Gen. Michael T. McGuire of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs.
“Arizonans and businesses across the state have worked for months to protect others and contain the spread of COVID-19 — and we can’t let up now,” Ducey said in a statement. “Right now, Arizonans are safer at home. And when you’re away from home, don’t forget to limit social gatherings, stay six feet from others, wash your hands and wear a mask. These simple steps can make a big difference.”
In addition to the coronavirus update, Ducey issued an Executive Order June 25 extending the “Good Samaritan” order through Dec. 31. This order protects frontline health care workers responding to the coronavirus outbreak. The order notes that intensive care units around the state are at 80 percent capacity.
The briefing came as many in the media, including the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post, have described Arizona as the nation’s newest coronavirus “hot spot.” A single-day record number of new coronavirus cases of 3,591 was set June 23. On June 26, 3,428 new cases were reported. According to ADHS, over 73,000 cases and more than 1,500 deaths have been reported in the state. Of those total cases, over 20,000 were reported in the week leading up to Ducey’s June 25 briefing.
The Washington Post reported Maricopa County, which includes much of metro Phoenix, is seeing more than 2,000 new cases per day. Disease trackers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said this was higher than New York City’s borough’s on their worst days. These disease trackers said Arizona has lost control of the pandemic.
On July 25, ABC15 in Phoenix reported on their website that less than 200 intensive care unit beds were available in the state. Joe Gerald, the program director for public health policy and management at the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health, told KPNX-TV in Phoenix said the state could run out of ICU beds by early July.
Much of the increase has been attributed to the lifting of Gov. Ducey’s ‘stay at home’ order on May 15. Kacey Ernst, an epidemiologist with the University of Arizona, told ABC News many people equated reopening the state with it being safe. She said the state may have to enact more closures until they can do even more testing and contact tracing on those who test positive.
Will Humble of the Arizona Public Health Association said in published reports that many businesses have not been following or enforcing the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control.
“This is Arizona’s first wave and it will not be our last wave,” Ducey said, according Az. Business Magazine of the Az Big Media website. “Where we are right now and what we expect is manageable, but we need to shift now. We expect that our numbers will be worse next week and the week following in terms of cases and hospitalizations.”
Ducey stated businesses should remain open and called for individuals and businesses to be held accountable. He said people needed to make informed decisions when they leave their homes or operate a business.
“When we reopened the economy, we said this was a green light to proceed, not a green light to speed” he said, according to Az Business Magazine. “We’ve had some speeding, and we’ve had some speeding in business.”
The pandemic has cost the lives of over 127,000 Americans, but 1.05 million have recovered. One of the slides in Ducey’s June 25 presentation quoted the National Review as saying the virus has already costs millions of jobs and trillions in lost productivity, and the full effect of the virus has not been felt yet.
ADHS said there have been 636,950 tests administered in the state, and 9.1 percent have come back positive. The rate of cases per 100,000 is 924.4. The rate of deaths per 100,000 is 21.35. By contrast, the World of Meters website, which monitors worldwide coronavirus counts, says New York State had 2,133.1 cases and 161.5 deaths per 100,000. The national averages are 766.4 cases per 100,000 and 38.4 deaths.
In La Paz County, according to ADHS, there have been 330 cases reported and five deaths. The majority of positive cases, over 220 of them, have come from the Colorado River Indian Tribes with testing at Indian Health Services. The Tribes have a ‘stay-at-home’ order that’s in effect. They have also mandated face masks be worn in public places on Tribal land.
Arizona is not the only state to see big increases in their coronavirus cases. Texas had 968 new cases on May 7. On June 25, their total number of new cases for the day was almost 6,000, according to the Guardian. This has led some localities to scale back the “re-opening” of the state. Florida has also seen a dramatic increase in their number of new cases.