President Trump announced plans to leave his home to visit Arizona the same day the state’s Republican governor extended his stay-at-home order.
Gov. Doug Ducey announced a two week extension of his stay-at-home order on Wednesday, putting him at odds with President Donald Trump, who announced he would not be extending the federal social distancing guidelines, set to expire Thursday.
The Republican governor said there are signs the spread of the new virus has slowed in the state, but there’s no clear indication that deaths and new cases are trending down. As of Thursday, there have been more than 7,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in then state, resulting in 320 reported deaths.
“We’ve worked together, we’ve united together. We’re going to continue to take that approach,” Ducey said. “Your actions are working. Everyone is doing their part. It’s not that I feel that — I see it.”
Business owners and residents who oppose the shutdown order have been mounting pressure on Ducey to allow businesses to reopen. Small groups have held protests at the state Capitol throughout the shutdown, potentially putting themselves at risk to contract the virus.
Deaths have been steadily increasing since the stay-at-home order was issued late last month. Ducey, who mapped out a gradual reopening of retail and restaurant businesses on Wednesday, said he would make any decision on reopening based on the advice of public health professionals.
But as of Wednesday, the governor said the data didn’t provide a clear enough answer for him to do anything other than to ease his order. The state has seen lower numbers of suspected cases in hospital emergency rooms, but it hasn’t experienced a downward trajectory of cases over two weeks or a drop in the percentage of positive tests.
The state tracks confirmed cases. But a lack of testing and the fact that many people have few or no symptoms means the number of cases could be much higher than reported. The state plans a testing blitz over the next three Saturdays where it seeks to test as many as 20,000 people each day.
Those are key metrics the Trump administration has set for states to decide whether to start easing restrictions designed to stop the spread of the virus. Ducey said he didn’t want to open too early and see new cases force him to reimpose restrictions.
Despite following federal guidelines, the decision puts the governor at odds with the president, who not only declined to extend the national guidelines for reducing viral spread, but announced plans to begin traveling again. Trump, who has stayed close to the White House for the last six weeks as he’s dealt with the pandemic, is eager to get out of Washington as he seeks to address his sagging poll numbers.
The president said on Wednesday that he will travel to Arizona next week for a visit to a Honeywell facility producing critical equipment for health care workers. The company is expected to produce more than six million N95 masks for Arizona over the next year to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’re going to start to move around and hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we’ll have some massive rallies and people will be sitting next to each other,” he said, adding that having people spaced out in accordance with social distancing guidelines “wouldn’t look too good.”
One of Trump’s final campaign rallies before the coronavirus outbreak in the US was held in Phoenix. As of February, the campaign still owed over $145,000 to various entities for rallies held in the state.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.