Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore via WikiMedia
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey addressed an update on the state’s “Stay home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” order during a press conference April 29. The order, originally put in place on March 31, was extended until May 15 with modifications, two weeks after its original end date.
The directive was put in place to reduce the person-to-person contact made by Arizonans as a result of “non-essential activities.” The CDC guidelines state that large gatherings of 10 or more people are detrimental to public health, and social distancing is necessary. The order followed an Arizona public health emergency declared on March 11, the closure of schools on March 15 and restaurant closures on March 19.
“This is about the people of Arizona,” Ducey said. “And we have lost to date 304 lives in this state. So we have it on sound authority that we’ll grieve with those that grieve and mourn with those that mourn.”
So far, the state has seen 7,202 cases in all 15 counties, and 68,813 tests have been administered.
The numbers, according to Ducey, have not displayed a trend. State officials are waiting on the data from the final week of April in order to better understand any statistical conclusions.
“I think you can see, with what we’ve been able to share so far, we have avoided what has happened in so many parts of our globe and our country,” Ducey said.
The state’s priority, in addition to preserving public health, is to reopen and restore the economy. Ducey plans to participate alongside industries and city officials to gain “citizen and consumer confidence” of the “largest portion” of the population.
Ducey explained a plan to ease in access to retail businesses. On May 4, retail establishments will partially reopen for curbside pickup and delivery. Appointment-based businesses will be reopening as well. On May 8, the restrictions will loosen, allowing doors to open for retail and service-based businesses. “Comprehensive sanitation protocols” and “reduced occupancy/capacity” will be mandated.
Ducey did not, however, have a clear plan for businesses such as barber shops and salons, which were originally deemed “essential.” Ducey hoped to have dine-in restaurants open as early as May 12.
A study by Quinnipiac University in early April claimed that 81 percent of U.S. adults approved a national stay-at-home order. The study found that Democrats and Independents were more likely to support it. As a red state, the future of Arizona’s social climate may be uncertain following Ducey’s latest update.
Hundreds of Arizonans gathered at the state capital on April 20 to protest the stay-at-home order. They claimed the directive was an infringement of their constitutional rights, despite the clear advice provided by the Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization.
Kelli Ward, the head of the Arizona Republican party, encouraged the protests, citing a rise in counter-protests by medical professionals who commonly argue, “We stay at work for you! Please stay at home for us!”
“Planning protest to #ReOpenAmerica? EVERYONE wear scrubs & masks – the media doesn’t care if you are really in healthcare or not – it’s the ‘message’ that matters!” Ward tweeted in April.
Ultimately, the future of COVID-19 in Arizona is unpredictable, but we can continue to do our part in limiting our travels and participation in non-essential activities. While Ducey’s primary focus in the press conference was to revamp the state economy, he encouraged citizens to consider the lives impacted by the virus.