PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey's extension of the stay-at-home order with "modifications" comes after his decisions to close Arizona later and with a lighter hand than many governors.
"We are not taking any chances," Governor Ducey said March 11, when he declared a state of emergency for coronavirus. "This is about public health and protecting lives."
In the 49 days since the declaration, he issued 26 executive orders and held 15 news conferences to update the public.
"The idea is to reduce the number of deaths," Ducey explained at one of his March press conferences. He repeatedly said the state was prepared to "use every tool in the toolbox" to protect people.
As March progressed, Gov. Ducey required schools and "non-essential" businesses like bars and movie theaters to shut down or move online. He required hospitals to increase capacity and reporting on patient loads, and he required everyone to socially distance.
Shortages of personal protective equipment and diagnostic testing have hampered the fight against coronavirus in Arizona. As governors in 32 other states ordered mass quarantine and stay-at-home rules, Ducey delayed.
"I am in no competition with any other governor or place in the nation," Ducey initially claimed.
On March 30, he reversed his decision with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected Executive Order. The order limited business and personal activities until April 30.
"I'm announcing that the time for further action is now," Ducey said.
The governor faced criticism about how many kinds of businesses were allowed to stay open, which included golf courses and salons at the time.
"Arizona is in a different position than other places that have been hit first and hit harder," Ducey explained back then.
Days later, he did require salons to close.
In April, hospitals increased bed capacity by 50% for an anticipated surge of patients, but most hospitals never saw a spike.
Then, medical facilities announced employee furloughs, due to loss of income, after the governor's ban on elective surgeries. That ban was the the first restriction Gov. Ducey decided to lift, effective May 1.
The governor was aware of the economic consequences of the stay-at-home order. Thousands of Arizonans were laid off, plunging the state into recession.
"We care about the people who are living paycheck to paycheck," Ducey said on March 23. "That's an overwhelming concern of what we are doing."
In the past two weeks, Ducey conferred with business leaders and health officials to determine when and how to reopen.
"I've been thinking about opening things up every day, while public health came first," he said in mid-April, "There's just no way that we continue like this forever."