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How Arizona stacks up to states that are reopening

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Posted at 8:10 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 20:15:26-04

If Gov. Doug Ducey decides to reopen Arizona on May 1, he'll join at least 13 states that are loosening social distancing restrictions.

An ABC15 analysis shows Arizona is in the middle of that pack when looking at those 13 states for total coronavirus cases and current case growth. ABC15 also compared Arizona to New York, which has not announced plans to reopen, because it had the highest number of total cases in the U.S.

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"The epidemiologists - they told us - the point of all the stay-at-home was to flatten the curve from doubling every day," said ABC15 data guru, Garrett Archer, "to numbers like what we're seeing, doubling every 10 to 15 every 20 days." Archer calls the trend "encouraging," but he said Arizona is not out of the woods yet.

Archer said Hawaii, Montana, and Alaska have seen very slow growth in cases counts in recent days.

"They're kind of in a good position to be the first openers," Archer said. "As you can see, they've had very low caseload, and it's essentially been flat."

When Georgia announced reopening, even President Donald Trump said it didn't seem like a good idea. With the numbers of cases doubling every 18 days, that state is actually seeing a slightly slower growth rate than Arizona, which is doubling every 17 days.

However, Georgia has seen more overall cases, and the governor controversially decided to open barbershops and bowling alleys.

"They have a larger population and a much more dense urban core than Arizona does, so there are some more risks with opening a place like Georgia than Arizona," Archer said.

When you look at Arizona county-by-county, Yavapai, often reporting just one new case a day, seems to have flattened the curve. Several other rural counties, like Greenlee, have had less than 20 total cases.

"That [Greenlee] is a very small county on the eastern side of the state," Archer said. "They've met the 14-day requirement that the White House has put out as a guideline for reopening."

A major question facing the governor is whether Arizona can reopen and still keep a lid on case growth in counties with the most cases. Those counties are Maricopa, Pima, Coconino, Navajo and Apache.