Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has blunt advice for anyone worried about catching COVID-19: Stay home where it’s safer.
The governor’s tip, delivered during his weekly press conference, came as the state passed 63,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
“COVID-19 is widespread in Arizona,” Ducey said. “It’s in all 15 of our counties. It’s growing, and it’s growing fast across all age groups and demographics. Anyone can get this virus, and anyone can spread this virus.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services listed 3,056 new cases Wednesday morning. Pima County has seen 6,546 of the state's 63,033 confirmed cases. A total of 1,490 people have died after contracting the virus, including 255 in Pima County. Maricopa County has more than half the state's cases, with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases hitting 37,135.
Ducey called the rate at which the virus is spreading “unacceptable,” and says now is the time for all Arizonans to take personal responsibility for their actions by donning a mask in public, washing their hands often, and maintaining six feet of social distance.
According to the state, roughly 20 percent of all COVID-19 tests conducted in Arizona are positive for COVID-19. That’s an increase from 18.5 percent earlier in June, 14.4 percent at the end of May, and 4.9 percent at the beginning of May.
Ducey expects those numbers to increase in the coming weeks.
“This is Arizona's first wave, and this will not be our last wave,” he said.
Arizona is one of several states recording daily highs, alongside California, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas, and South Carolina. Arizona also joins several states, Arkansas, California, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, in recording daily numbers of hospitalizations.
Despite the increase in cases, Ducey called the situation manageable, but said the state needs to change directions by applying all the knowledge it's learned in the past few months and remaining “vigilant, flexible and humble as this virus presents new challenges at every turn.”
Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said the state is also working with private partners like SonoraQuest and TGen to expand private testing in addition to an increase in testing locations and availability across Arizona. While more than 50,000 collection kits have been distributed to healthcare partners, labs, and local health departments, residents in low-income areas of Phoenix were waiting for hours in drive-thru lines to get tested last weekend.
Arizona has conducted roughly 619,000 COVID-19 tests, including about 400,000 PCR tests.
Christ also said those who go out should consider how many people they will interact with when they leave their homes. Meeting new people outside of their “quarantine bubble” carries great risk, Christ said. She advised the public to wear face masks when around other people, especially when you can’t maintain six feet of space. Christ said this is especially important because asymptomatic carriers can still spread COVID-19 and potentially put other lives at risk.
“Just because somebody doesn’t look sick, doesn’t mean they aren’t carrying the virus,” Christ said. “The closer you are to other people who may be infected, the greater your risk for coming down with COVID-19.”
In addition to providing funding, resources, volunteers, and aid to healthcare throughout Arizona, Ducey said the state is also asking residents to hold “bad actors” accountable for not following health and safety guidelines.
At the press conference, Ducey announced that Scottsdale authorities filed charges against the Riot House bar and reported violations to the Department of Liquor—which sent a final notice to several Arizona businesses, including Hi-Fi, Casa Amigos and Bottled Blonde.
“We will continue to do this,” Ducey said. “I want to thank local authorities for enforcing the guidelines that are out there. Businesses can enforce these themselves and continue to operate without interruption. If they choose not to, there will be accountability, and there will be enforcement. And there will be more for bad actors.”
Moving forward, Ducey said he’s changing the “green light” he gave to the state’s economic factors months ago has now changed to a cautious, “yellow light.”
“This virus is everywhere,” Ducey said. “It’s likely in this room right now and the actions that you take as a citizen will make a difference in how we care for our most vulnerable and how we handle remaining hospital capacity.”