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COVID-19 pandemic in Arizona

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COVID-19 pandemic in Arizona
COVID-19 rolling 14day Prevalence in Arizona by county.svg
Map of the outbreak in Arizona by confirmed new infections per 100,000 people (14 days preceding March 7)
  No confirmed new cases or no/bad data
COVID-19 Prevalence in Arizona by county.svg
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationArizona, U.S.
First caseTempe[1][2]
Arrival dateJanuary 26, 2020[1][2]
OriginWuhan, Hubei, China[3][4]
Confirmed cases46,689[5]
Official website

The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached the U.S. state of Arizona in January 2020.

Timeline[edit source | edit]

January[edit source | edit]

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Arizona was announced by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) on January 26, 2020. A 20-year-old male student of Arizona State University (ASU), who had traveled to Wuhan, China, the point of origin of the outbreak,[3][4] was diagnosed with COVID-19 and placed in isolation. Twenty-six days after the initial diagnosis and subsequent isolation, and after repeated negative tests, the student was released from isolation and has since made a full recovery. This case was the fifth reported COVID-19 case overall in the United States at the time of the confirmation.[1][2][6]

March[edit source | edit]

On March 6, a woman from Pinal County was diagnosed with COVID-19. The woman, in her 40s, is a healthcare worker and was hospitalized at a Phoenix-area hospital, according to the Pinal County Public Health Department. This case was the first instance in Arizona of community spread, or where the source of the infection is unknown.[7]

On March 7, the Arizona Republic reported[8] that a Phoenix-area man in his 20s posted a video on YouTube stating that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 3 after traveling to Paris. The Republic did not name the man to protect his privacy and the video was later removed from YouTube. When the Republic contacted the man via Instagram, he declined to comment, then disabled public access to his Instagram profile. According to his LinkedIn page, the man worked for Riot House, a nightclub in the east/northeast Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale. On March 5, Riot House announced on Facebook that an employee "who has a communicable disease" visited the establishment around midnight on March 1, and had also been inside El Hefe, another establishment owned by the same parent company, around the same time. Riot House said they brought in a professional "medical-grade" cleaning company to deep-clean the two establishments per the guidance of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. In the Republic report, it was mentioned that the department shared a statement on Twitter on March 5 saying that they had "interviewed the case and contacted all identified close contacts." The diagnosed man was apparently recovering in home isolation at last report.[9]

U.S. Representative Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) announced on March 8 that he and several of his staff had come into contact with an individual who soon afterward tested positive for COVID-19. The exposure happened at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which was held in the Washington, D.C, area (Fort Washington, MD) February 26–29. Gosar and the staff members went into self-isolation.[10]

On March 11, Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation (a large portion of which is located in northeastern Arizona) declared a state of emergency as a proactive measure to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.[11]

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency on March 12.[12] Dr. Cara Christ, director of ADHS, said there were no plans to limit large public gatherings as governors in other states have done.[citation needed]

As of March 12, there were nine confirmed cases of coronavirus in Arizona, including five from the same household in Pinal County (reportedly the household of the healthcare worker announced as being positive for COVID-19 on March 6).[citation needed]

Arizona State University President Michael Crow announced that school would switch beginning March 16 to online instruction "wherever possible" for a period of two weeks over concerns about the virus.[13] Similar measures were also taken by the University of Arizona (which announced it was extending its then-current spring break period by an additional two days before switching to online instruction)[14] and Northern Arizona University. On March 20, the University of Arizona announced that spring graduation ceremonies, scheduled for May 15, would be canceled, and an "alternate graduation experience" provided instead.[15]

On March 17, the first COVID-19 case within the Navajo Nation was confirmed in a 46-year-old resident of the Chilchinbito. Further measures, including restrictions on non-essential businesses on tribal land in an effort to limit visits by outside tourists, were announced on March 18; three tribal residents reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 as of the 18th. As of March 19, a total of 14 cases were identified within the Navajo Nation most of which had reported symptoms to the Kayenta Indian Health Service Unit in Kayenta, Arizona. Nine other Native American tribes, out of 22 in the state of Arizona, had also declared states of emergency applicable to their tribal lands.[16][17]

Tucson mayor Regina Romero declared a local emergency on March 17,[18] ordering many businesses to close, limiting restaurants to drive-thru and takeout. The emergency proclamation was released on the afternoon of St. Patrick's Day, one of the busiest drinking days of the year. All bars, theaters, museums, gyms, bowling alleys and other recreation and entertainment businesses were under a mandatory shutdown as of 8 p.m. and remain closed through the end of March. Among the exceptions were grocery stores, pharmacies, food pantries, banks, or vendors located at universities, houses of worship, at care homes and the Tucson airport. This order did not affect similar Pima County businesses outside of the city limits. Similar emergency declarations were announced by other city governments in the Phoenix area, led by mayor Kate Gallego of the city of Phoenix.[19] These measures came after U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D) admonished state and local leaders (on March 16) for not doing enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Arizona, as compared to what leaders in other states were doing.[20]

Several springtime public events in Tucson were canceled as a result of concerns over COVID-19, including the Tucson Festival of Books (held on the University of Arizona campus), the Fourth Avenue Street Fair, the Tucson Folk Festival,[21] and the Pima County Fair.[22]

Governor Ducey announced March 19 that he would limit restaurant service and close bars, theaters, and gyms in counties with confirmed cases of COVID-19. This directive, to take effect upon close of business March 20, would apply to six counties: Maricopa, which had 22 cases as of March 19; Pinal, which had 10; Pima, which had seven; Navajo, which had three; Coconino, which had one; and Graham, which had one. Ducey also called on the Arizona National Guard to help grocery stores and food banks restock shelves to protect food supplies; halted all elective surgeries "to free up medical resources and maintain the capacity for hospitals and providers to continue offering vital services;" extended expiration dates for drivers licenses 6 months so that residents who are 65 or older could renew them without waiting in line; authorized restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages alongside food, and allowed manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers to buy back unopened products from restaurants, bars and clubs. Ducey faced widespread criticism in the days prior to this directive from lawmakers and constituents who felt he was responding too slowly to the COVID-19 crisis.[23] On March 20, Ducey further stated that he saw no reason to go beyond that directive and issue a statewide stay-at-home order in Arizona as his counterparts in New York, California, and some other states had done.[24]

On March 20, ADHS and Maricopa County health officials announced the first death in the state from COVID-19: a Maricopa County man in his 50s with underlying health conditions.[25]

On March 30, Gov. Ducey issued a statewide stay at home order to stop the spread of new coronavirus, barring Arizonans from leaving their residences except for food, medicine, and other essentials. The order took effect at the close of business March 31.[26][27] On March 30 The National Guard builds a medical station in Chinle, Arizona, to help with the increase of COVID-19 cases in the Navajo Nation.[28]

April[edit source | edit]

On April 29, Gov. Ducey announced a partial reopening to begin on May 4 with details describing how some non-essential businesses can operate. The stay at home order was extended until May 15.[29] Barbershops along with nail and hair salons would begin reopening on May 8 while restaurants would be allowed to open dining rooms May 11.[30]

Signs describe public health safety measures for shoppers at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Arizona.

May[edit source | edit]

On May 6, researchers at Arizona State University and University of Arizona were instructed to halt their work on a public model for COVID-19 in the United States. Their model had recommended against any reopening before the end of May.[31] Arizona Department of Health also stated that the modeling team would no longer be allowed access to special data sets used for this work.[32] The state announced that it would be using FEMA's model for COVID-19 predictions, although the department also declined to reveal the results of the model.[31]

On May 12, Gov. Ducey announced that the stay at home order would be lifted May 15 and that gyms and pools could begin reopening on May 13.[33]

On May 15, the statewide lockdown order expired. There were 13,169 confirmed cases and 651 deaths related to COVID-19 in Arizona.[34] Gov. Ducey stated that Arizona was in compliance with the CDC's Phase One guidelines and that businesses would be allowed to reopen with social distancing measures. Major league sports were allowed to reopen without fans and only in leagues adhering to CDC guidelines.[34]

On May 17th, the percentage of positives of total PCR tests, reported weekly, was 6%.[35] The total number of tests with a specimen collection date of March 17th was 37,032.[35]

On May 24th, the percentage of positives of total PCR tests, reported weekly, was 9%.[35] The total number of tests with a specimen collection date of March 24th was 42,638.[35]

On May 31st, two weeks after the expiration of the Governor's stay at home order, the percentage of positives of total PCR tests, reported weekly, was 12%.[35] The total number of tests with a specimen collection date of March 31st was 51,413.[35]

June[edit source | edit]

Two weeks after the stay-at-home-order expired, the state reported a record high of daily hospitalizations suspected to be related to COVID-19, with 1,009 hospitalizations recorded on Mon, June 1.[36][37]

On June 3, there were 22,223 cases and 981 deaths related to COVID-19, as reported by the Arizona health department. Over 345,000 tests for COVID-19 had been performed (nearly 250,000 PCR tests and over 100,000 antibody tests). About 5.7% of tests returned as positive for COVID-19.[38]

By June 8th there was 27,678 cases and 1,047 known deaths[39] and the Arizona Department of Health Services director, Dr. Cara Christ, told hospitals to 'fully activate' emergency plans[40].

On June 10th, Governor Doug Ducey held a press conference to address the rise in cases and hospitalizations. The press conference focused primarily on the fact that hospitals have capacity to care for patients.[41] At one point Governor Ducey stated: "The plan going forward is we are going to continue to focus on public health and the education campaign around it.[42]".

On June 12th, the President of Arizona State University announced that face coverings are mandatory, effective immediately.[43]

On June 13th, two news outlets reported that a number of restaurants and businesses have voluntarily closed temporarily due to visits by individuals or employees who have tested positive for the virus.[44][45]

On June 17th, Governor Ducey accounced that local governments would be able to set mask-wearing regulation after previously having blocked local mask wearing requirements.[46] Soon after, many city and county officials began implementing face covering mandates or announcing plans to discuss possible regulations.[47]

Impact[edit source | edit]

Economy[edit source | edit]

In April 2020, Arizona received $1.86 billion of federal relief funds from the CARES Act.[48] From this amount, much of the funds were reallocated to cities and organizations/businesses: Phoenix ($293 million)[49], Mesa ($90 million)[50], Tucson ($96 million), the Mayo Clinic ($29.6 million), Scottsdale Healthcare Hospitals ($27.8 million), Mesa Air ($92.5 million).[51] In that same month, the state unemployment rate reached a high of 12.6%, which included a loss of 276,300 jobs. The economic loss primarily occurred in leisure and hospitality, including bars/ restaurants and travel accommodations. [52]

In May 2020, the state's Joint Legislative Budget Committee predicted a $1.1 billion budget shortfall through the 2021 fiscal year. The losses were largely anticipated from the expected drop of corporate income tax (by 39%), income tax withholdings (by 15%), and the increase in state costs due to healthcare. From mid-March to May, over half a million individuals had filed unemployment claims in Arizona.[53] Some Arizonans reported an issue with receiving the additional unemployment funds from the CARES Act. [54]

On 1 June 2020, the Arizona Department of Economic Security (AZDES) announced that it received over $24 million from the coronavirus relief bill. The department stated that the funds would be used to assist low-income individuals with utility bills, housing payments, and employment assistance.[55] In that same week, the number of unemployment applications since mid-March rose over 620,000 claims.[56]

Schools[edit source | edit]

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, academic institutions across Arizona moved to distance learning. On March 30, Governor Ducey declared a statewide closure for all schools and mandated the option for students to complete coursework in an alternate method.[57]

Following the lifting of the Arizona's lockdown order, Gov. Ducey announced that schools would be reopening for face-to-face instruction in the fall. The director of Arizona Department of Health services, Dr. Cara Christ, described the intent to "reduce class sizes, create disinfectant protocols and be flexible with parents and employees who have health problems that put them at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19."[58][59]

On 1 June 2020, the Arizona Department of Education release guidelines for the reopening of public schools. Measures included masks for staff and older students, staying home in the event of COVID-19 symptoms or diagnosis, provisions for frequent disinfection of surfaces, and socially distanced seating. [60]

Higher Education[edit source | edit]

By March 12, several universities (including all three state universities and some community colleges) announced that courses would be moved to an online format for at least two weeks following spring break. [61] By March 16, all three state universities (University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University) announced that they would continue online courses through the end of spring semester.[62] By late April, all three state universities publicly announced the intention to resume in-person classes in the fall semester. All universities described plans for measure to ensure public safety, including diagnostic testing for students/faculty/staff and modifications to classroom formats.[63]

Multiple universities also announced budget cuts to staff and faculty salaries due to financial hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic. In mid April, the University of Arizona released a furlough and paycut plan from June 2020 to June 2021.[64]Similarly, NAU announced payouts and reduced contracts due to an anticipated decrease in enrollment.[65]

Sports curtailed[edit source | edit]

Major League Baseball (MLB) cancelled the remainder of spring training on March 12, affecting ten separate Cactus League venues in the Phoenix area (and over 66,000 seasonal and 2,000 volunteer jobs),[66] and on March 16, MLB announced that the regular season would be postponed indefinitely, after the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to restrict events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, affecting every team that trains in Arizona: the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and the Texas Rangers.[67][68] The Cactus League attracts over 1 million visitors to the state and generates more than $600 million a year in economic impact to the greater Phoenix metropolitan economy.[66] In early April, MLB began discussing plans to conduct its 2020 season entirely in the Phoenix area, with teams playing at Chase Field and spring training complexes to empty crowds.[69]

In the National Basketball Association, the season was suspended for 30 days starting on March 12, affecting the Phoenix Suns. On March 19, Suns guard Devin Booker announced a pledge of $100,000 to launch a donation campaign on video streaming platform Twitch, which would be matched by Phoenix Suns Charities. The funds would benefit local Phoenix area charities assisting seniors, families and children, and help with local healthcare initiatives during the COVID-19 crisis including drive-through clinics.[70]

Also on March 12, the National Hockey League suspended the season indefinitely, affecting the Arizona Coyotes.[71]

Statistics[edit source | edit]

Arizona COVID-19 cases by gender and age
Classification Cases
Number (%)
All 39,097 (100%)
Gender Male 18,545 (48%)
Female 20,477 (52%)
Unknown/Other 75 (0%)
Age 65+ 5,779 (15%)
55–64 5,098 (13%)
45–54 6,146 (16%)
20–44 17,891 (46%)
0–19 4,144 (11%)
Unknown 39 (0%)
Source: Analysis by the Arizona Department of Health Services, as of June 16, 2020.[5]

See also[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

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