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COVID-19 concerns escalate in Arizona, no changes made by Gov. Ducey

Posted at 10:52 PM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 01:55:16-04

Governor Ducey has repeatedly touted Arizona's hospital capacity as a rationale for re-opening the economy.

But as the state's COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket, Arizonans are hearing a different message: Wear a mask and try to stay home.

There's an old adage, 'Numbers don't lie.'

And Arizona's do not look good.

"They continue to go in the wrong direction," said Governor Doug Ducey. "The rate of this virus is spread is unacceptable."

Right now, 20 percent of Arizonans getting a COVID-19 test positive for the virus.

"That's one in every five tests resulting in a new case," said Ducey.

The governor was his most austere Thursday as he outlined the goal moving forward.

"We need to change direction on these numbers," he said. "We need to reverse this trend."


But outside of a yellow stoplight, and encouraging Arizonans to "Please wear a mask [and stay] safer at home."

The state's top leader made zero major changes Thursday.

Some people thought there would be decisive action taken as Arizona sees the largest per capita spike in the country.

But when the news conference concluded, there was no new stay-at-home order, no statewide mask mandate, and hospitals can still perform elective surgeries.

"We have been planning for worst-case scenarios," said Governor Ducey. "The virus is widespread. It can't be stopped. It doesn't go away."


In May, the Ducey press conferences were dominated by talk about the economy and small businesses.

In mid-June, the theme from the governor's office was "hospital capacity."

Now, as the national attention on Arizona's increase grows, Ducey acknowledged, "Today in Arizona we have more hospital beds in use."

He went on to say, "We are prepared to transport patients to hospitals that have capacity."

While the virus is invisible, health experts agree large gatherings pose the greatest risk.

"You are safer at home," said Dr. Cara Christ, Director for the Arizona Department of Health Services. "If you are in a group of people, you want to be wearing a cloth face covering."


"The crowded social gatherings that we have seen must be minimized," said Gov. Ducey.

The governor called out Scottsdale clubs for the lax social distancing and role in spreading the virus.

But he did not mention President Trump's Tuesday rally in north Phoenix.

The governor was in attendance in the packed church, wearing a mask, alongside roughly three thousand others, most of whom were not wearing one.

"People's rights to assemble are not going to be infringed - in an election year or any year in the state of Arizona," said Governor Ducey.

Vice President Pence is holding another campaign event Tuesday in Tucson, and the governor said that will be allowed to go on as planned.

"I have a job to do. The President and the Vice President have a job to do," he said.


In recent days, stories have emerged of Arizonans waiting 12+ hours at drive-thru testing sites, as well as doctors alleging large testing companies are rationing collection kits.

"We don't want Arizona to have to wait, to get the test or the test results," said Dr. Cara Christ.Dr. Christ said the state is securing another rapid Roche testing machine in the next two weeks, which will help turnaround results quicker, another complaint from those who have been tested.

Dr. Christ said AZDHS is also providing a million dollars to TGEN and Sonora Quest and other funding for labs to ramp up testing.

"If you want to get tested, you can go to AZ get in the queue," said Gov. Ducey.

Ultimately Thursday was about the state's top leader trying to manage expectations.

"This is Arizona's first wave, and this will not be our last wave."