Health experts concerned Labor Day weekend could lead to rise in COVID-19 cases

Posted at 9:11 PM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-06 20:29:26-04

State officials and health experts are stressing caution ahead of Labor Day weekend, and are concerned there may be another spike in COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Shad Marvasti, an associate professor and director of public health at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, said Memorial Day weekend was a disaster in terms of the pandemic.

"We paid the price for it when we saw the increase in the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Arizona," he said. "Hopefully, we've grown wiser and more sober from the realities of COVID-19."

There are more restrictions now: Masks are required in most parts of the state, and bars have to be at 50 percent capacity, enforce social distancing and prohibit dancing. Clubs are still not allowed to open.

"My concern is that there are so many things that are opening right now, all at the same time, and even if they are at limited capacity--people get a false sense of security that if some things are open, it's completely safe, and it's not," said Dr. Shad.

According to travel planning app TripIt, Phoenix ranked sixth as to where U.S. travelers were planning to go over this holiday weekend.

On Sunday, ABC15 witnessed hundreds packing Saguaro Lake, northeast of Fountain Hills. Cliff Dubois, who traveled from Tucson with his family, said the getaway followed several other cancelled vacation plans, including a trip to Disneyland for his daughter's birthday.

The family thought boating on the lake was a safe way to "make things normal" while enjoying the weekend.

"We're separated from other people, we're just on our boat in the water... we don't get close to other people," he said.

In Old Town Friday night, there was a mix of people out. Most people said they felt safe going out.

"We should all be doing everything that we can to make sure we don't have spikes, I like that people are being strict--especially employees are really putting their foot down and saying 'we're not doing this,'" said Kim Canfield.

"You hope people do the social distancing and wear the proper masks and things like that, but overall feeling pretty good about it and feeling comfortable," said Kolby Klingaman.

Health experts say there are ways to get together safely:

  • Try to gather outdoors
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wear masks
  • Keep groups to 10 or fewer people

ABC15 has compiled a list of 40 safe things to do this Labor Day weekend.