Gov. Ducey Gives Green Light to Reopen Economy Despite 440 New COVID-19 Cases And 32 Deaths Today

Gov. Ducey reopen COVID-19

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, center,, speaks at a news conference regarding the latest updates on the coronavirus as Cara Christ, left, Arizona director of Public Health Services, and Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, right, Arizona Army National Guard, listenvMonday, May 4, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

By Brandy Rae Ramirez

May 13, 2020

COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to spike; however, the governor claims cases are down as the economy reopens.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced Tuesday that Arizona’s stay-at-home order will expire come Friday; but as the economy continues to reopen, COVID-19 cases are spiking across the state, according to the state health department.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases are now at 12,176 with 440 new cases reported today, and 32 new deaths for a total of 594. There were also 6,728 new tests performed in the state.

The state’s seniors, 65 and over, and males, continue to have a higher mortality rate.

Although the state’s coronavirus numbers continue to increase , Ducey said the decision to lift his stay-home order was based on a lower percentage of cases per tests administered. He also cited sufficient hospital capacity and a growing ability to test people and trace their contacts, despite experts outlining the issues with contact tracing.

RELATED: Where Does Arizona Stand on Contact Tracing? In Short, We Don’t Know.

While Ducey claims the state is ready to reopen safely, leaders of the Navajo Nation are taking a different approach.

The Nation has extended an executive order declaring a state of emergency and government closures through June 7 in an attempt to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. The stay-at-home order for residents also remains in place.

Tribal President Jonathan Nez announced the third extension of the executive order during an online town hall Tuesday. The current emergency declaration that closes government offices and non-essential programs was set to expire May 17.

The tribe has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic with at least 3,204 cases and 102 known deaths as of Monday night.

“I was hopeful we were flattening out … but we need to start seeing the down numbers,” Nez said. “In order for us to do that, we have to keep everyone safe.”

RELATED: Why COVID-19 Continues to Hit Tribal Families The Hardest

Although coronavirus cases show no signs of decreasing, Gov. Ducey has given the green light to professional sports, gyms, and public swimming pools to resume operations.

On Tuesday, Ducey said professional sports, including MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL, can resume without fans on Saturday. The governor said he’s had discussions with “leaders of some of these leagues,” but did not say which ones or elaborate on what activities might take place in Arizona. Last month, he said he’d spoken with Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and was open to hosting games.

Other sports like basketball and hockey have considered playing the remainder of the regular season in hubs with several teams playing games in one location.

“It would be at this point in time, according to the CDC guidelines, without fans,” Ducey said at a press conference.

In addition to sports, gyms and pools, among the last remaining facilities that have not been allowed to operate, can open their doors effective Wednesday if they follow recommendations from health officials. 

Ducey’s stay-home order was set to expire Friday, and he said he won’t renew it. The announcement eliminates the threat of criminal penalties for people taking unnecessary trips away from home, but it’s still largely symbolic because he has already carved out a lengthy and growing list of activities that were allowed despite the order.

Last week, he allowed the re-opening of retail businesses, salons, and barber shops; restaurants were allowed to open their dining rooms on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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