Ducey announced a new round of business closures Monday but stopped short of shutting down all in-person business.
Public health experts are again called on Gov. Doug Ducey to reinstate Arizona’s stay-at-home order on Wednesday, as the state reported record-high new cases and deaths resulting from COVID-19.
The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 4,878 new cases Wednesday out of 17,227 new diagnostic tests – coming to a striking daily positive percentage of 28.3%.
The agency also reported 88 new deaths, the highest in one day so far. The last record was 79 deaths on June 24, but the number was in part due to death certificate matching, the practice of adding previously-recorded deaths that had been attributed. to other causes which were later found to be virus-related.
As the spread of COVID-19 has amped up in Arizona, medical providers are being stretched thin.
The health department reported only 187 ICU beds available Wednesday and a record 1,289 virus-related emergency room visits.
Arizona hospitals have activated surge plans in recent weeks, while state officials have authorized “crisis standards of care,” guidelines that tell doctors which patients should get a ventilator or other scarce resources if there is a shortage.
A Worsening Hotspot
While multiple states have seen a spike in cases in recent weeks, the numbers are uniquely concerning in Arizona.
A map launched Wednesday by a coalition of top scientists, including from Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities, placed Arizona and Florida in the “red,” or worst, category.
The scientists said things have gotten so bad that “stay-at-home orders are necessary” in the two states.
Local medical professionals have also joined in on calling for Ducey to take more action.
Arizona is doing worse in some categories even compared to Florida. For example, Arizona is sitting at a 24% positive test rate for the week, while Florida was only at 16%.
While Maricopa County has the highest number of cases, Yuma and Santa Cruz counties have been ranked among the top 10 worst hotspots in the country.
Earlier this month, Gov. Doug Ducey tried to pin the blame for rising cases simply on increased testing, but the growing positive percentage has shown there is evidence of increased community spread.
Ducey did announce a new round of business closures Monday – targeting bars, clubs, gyms, movie theaters, waterparks, and tubing for at least 30 days – but he stopped short of closing all in-person business.
However, group of gyms has decided to stay open and sue the state over the order, despite being cited Tuesday and Wednesday.
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States that are doing better now chose to begin reopening much later than states like Arizona and Florida.
The US Outlook
Dr. Anthony Facui of the White House Coronavirus Task Force told a Senate committee Tuesday that the U.S. could soon see 100,000 new cases reported in one day. This is largely thanks to the states where cases are ballooning; Fauci said about half of the country’s new cases are coming for four states — Texas, California, Florida, and Arizona).
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The newly-launched state comparison map showed 14 states as having escalating community spread, while 34 have potential community spread. Only one, Hawaii, was considered close to containment.
Vice President Mike Pence, who has said the federal government is closely monitoring hotspot states, is scheduled to visit Phoenix on Wednesday.
He had originally planned to hold a campaign event in Tucson and then meet with Ducey in Yuma, but now he will only meet with Ducey at the airport before returning home.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.