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Will coronavirus spike if Arizona reopens April 30?

Posted at 6:08 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 22:14:31-04

As Governor Doug Ducey contemplates how and when to reopen Arizona, there remains uncertainty about how many people really have coronavirus and how the disease could spread.

FULL SECTION: Everything you need to know about coronavirus

Arizonans have been ordered to stay home, except for essential services and functions, until April 30.

"I’m gonna make the best decision for Arizona," Ducey said at a press conference Tuesday. He must decide whether to reopen in two weeks or extend the closures.

Ducey's decisions are based, in part, on epidemiological modeling. The Arizona Department of Health Services has yet to release their internal modeling despite ABC15's repeated requests to see the projected curve.

"As the situation evolves, we will continue to gather more data, and we will post it on our website," said Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS director.

Arizona's official coronavirus case count is increasing by about 175 people a day. This is happening as the number of COVID-19 tests administered declined by 17 percent over three weeks, from 12,763 tests during the week of March 21 to 10,571 tests during the week of April 5.

MAP: Coronavirus cases in Arizona by zip code

"The actual case load is probably appreciably higher - several-fold higher than is being reported," said ASU mathematics scholar Steffen Eikenberry. He is researching how using masks could slow coronavirus' spread.

Certainly, many people want to get back to work, but is it safe?

"Are we going to see a resurgence if we do that too soon?" said ABC15 analyst Wendy Smith-Reeve, the former director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management. "You don't want to overwhelm the health of the healthcare system, so that’s really what the mitigation strategy is designed to do by stopping the spread."

According to Harvard University researchers, who published a paper in the journal Science this week, government leaders likely will have to rotate communities' restrictions to avoid hospital surges. This could involve allowing several weeks of working, followed by several weeks of stay-at-home orders, as coronavirus lingers for months to come.

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