Gov. Doug Ducey: We need better data
Out-of-state travelers from areas with substantial community spread of COVID-19 will have to isolate or quarantine themselves for 14 days under a new executive order from Gov. Doug Ducey.
“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 remains our top priority,” said Ducey. “Today’s action aligns with guidance from public health officials, while ensuring those traveling for essential functions can continue to do so. We will take all necessary precautions to keep Arizonans safe.”
The order does not apply to airline employees, military personnel, healthcare workers, human services personnel, workers conducting essential infrastructure operations and workers providing essential governmental functions.
Ducey issued a number of other executive orders today regarding the outbreak. He instituted new guidelines for residential care facilities, nursing homes and other similar institutions. Staff will have to use appropriate personal protection equipment and institute symptom checks for anyone entering facilities. The order also requires healthcare facilities to supply residents with some kind of video device so they can stay in touch with family and loved ones.
“Arizona will continue to take proactive measures to protect our seniors and vulnerable populations,” said Ducey. “This order helps protect seniors and those living in health care facilities, as well as the staff and health care professionals caring for patients. My thanks to these individuals working to protect Arizona’s most vulnerable as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Ducey also loosened restrictions on restaurants so they can repackage sell grocery items they have on hand even if packaging labels say “not for resale.”
“Even with dine-in and carry-out options still available to patrons, many Arizona restaurants are struggling due to COVID-19,” Ducey said. “Today’s executive order provides flexibility for restaurant owners to safely sell prepared and bulk foods or supplies they have on hand and can’t use right now. We are proud to support Arizona restaurants with this reform.”
Hospital and health care providers will have to better track data related to COVID-19, including the number of ICU beds and ventilators in use by COVID-19 patients, the number of suspected COVID-19 patients visiting emergency rooms and estimated amount of personal protective equipment being used each day.
“This data will allow us to better prepare for our peak in cases and hospital demand, and it will help us identify a better recovery rate for Arizonans affected with this disease,” said Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “With widespread transmission, we know that there have likely been and currently are more cases in our community. Across the country, we’re learning more about the disease and how it impacts the health of Americans. While some cases are asymptomatic, we know the devastating risk that it poses to our high-risk individuals.”
In terms of healthcare capacity, Chris said that there are more than 16,000 hospital beds and 1,500 ICU beds in the state. Of those beds, 64 percent of ICU, 68 percent of hospital beds and 25 percent of the state’s ventilators are in use. Arizona has approximately 1,100 ventilators available, Christ said.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona had reached 2,575 as of Tuesday, April 7, according to the morning report from the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Pima County had 415 of the state’s confirmed cases.
The coronavirus had killed 73 people statewide, according to today’s state report. Later in the day, the Pima County Health Department reported that a total 15 people in Pima County have died from the virus to date.
The state remains under Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order that has closed a wide number of “non-essential” businesses, including many retails stories, barbershops, salons and swap meets. Public parks remain open but amenities such as playgrounds and restrooms are closed.
Under the stay-at-home order, Arizonans are still able to shop for groceries, medical and household needs, and pet supplies. They can also go work, pick up a take-out meal from a restaurant, travel to take care of a family member, friend or pet, and can still go walking, hiking, biking and golfing, provided that they adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Because COVID-19 symptoms can take as long as two weeks to appear after exposure to the virus (and some people can remain entirely asymptomatic), health officials say community spread of the disease is far worse than the official numbers suggest. They have urged the public to avoid unnecessary trips and gatherings of more than 10 people. Last week, the CDC began advising people to cover their faces in masks in public.
With schools now closed through the end of the academic year, teachers have transitioned to online learning and districts across the region are delivering lunch and breakfast meals to kids via school buses or setting up central locations.
In the face of the spreading virus, Ducey has also halted residential, business and nonprofit evictions; halted all elective surgery to keep hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients; loosened regulations to make telemedicine more available and increase eligibility for AHCCCS, the state's Medicaid program; and activated the National Guard to assist in grocery stores as Arizonans clear the shelves.
Courts have rescheduled most hearings to avoid spreading the virus.
COVID-19 symptoms typically occur two to 14 days after exposure, and include headache, fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to the CDC. However, some cases of the virus are entirely asymptomatic. Practices to avoid infection include social distancing (of at least six feet), washing your hands, avoiding unnecessary trips and not touching your face. COVID-19 can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on stainless steel and plastic surfaces up to three days.
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, speak with a healthcare provider for medical advice. According to the CDC, people who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Stay at home and avoid public transportation, but stay in touch with your doctor. If you do leave your home, wear a facemask and clean your hands often. If you develop more severe symptoms (persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, bluish lips) get medical attention immediately. Your local health authorities will give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.
Have you caught COVID-19? Are you feeling ill? Is your small business struggling to make it? Have you lost your job as a result of the outbreak? Are you struggling to manage your kids while schools are closed? Tell us your COVID-19 stories. Send an email or photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.