(The Center Square) – Arizonans will see their state become one of the first in the nation to lift its stay-at-home order.
Gov. Doug Ducey announced Tuesday that he would allow his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” order to expire Friday. Replacing it is another order his office says will focus on residents staying healthy and maintaining physical distancing while directing resources to vulnerable populations.
Pools, gyms and fitness centers and spas will be allowed to reopen Wednesday. Ducey’s office provided additional guidance for each to respectively follow.
The new order that takes effect Saturday will focus on “ramping up testing availability and frequency; implementing tracking of key health metrics such as reported symptomatic cases and emergency room usage; standing up surge hospital capacity to be used as needed; expanding statewide contact tracing; bolstering supply chains for personal protective equipment for frontline medical workers and emergency responders; implementing enhanced safety protocols to protect those living and working in high-risk facilities such as nursing homes; and providing public health guidance for businesses and individuals to ensure continued physical distancing,” according to a release.
“Since the start of this pandemic, Arizona has taken a calm and steady approach to protecting health and slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Ducey said. “Today, our hospitals have capacity to provide care to those who need it; our businesses are implementing and adapting to new physical distancing measures; and data shows Arizona is headed in the right direction. It is time to move forward with the next steps of Arizona’s economic recovery – while continuing to make health and safety our number one priority. I’m grateful to all Arizonans for their partnership and cooperation during these trying times. By continuing to follow the data and recommendations of public health officials, we can continue to move forward safely and responsibly together.”
According to data from the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, more than half of the state’s deaths attributed to COVID-19 are people who resided in long-term care facilities.
The state saw an increase in the daily count of COVID-19 cases Tuesday, but public health officials have also been ramping up testing, hosting a "testing blitz" in each of the last two weekends. Other states have also seen increased cases as their testing count increased.
Ducey had faced criticism, lawsuits, even a recall effort, challenging his two-week extension of the stay-at-home order that he enacted at the end of March.