(The Center Square) – Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona’s two largest cities, both declared a state of emergency in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the the United States.
Dining rooms are temporarily shut down; however, establishments can still offer delivery and to-go services. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego ordered the closure of restaurants, starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Her decision “wasn’t made lightly,” she said.
“Our medical professionals need all the help they can get & closing bars and moving restaurants to take-out/delivery/drive-thru helps #StopTheSpread. The health of our community comes first. #COVID19,” Gallego added in her post.
Gallego also shared a video recollecting harrowing scenarios tied to the overall response to the virus, in addition to voicing her displeasure in having to decide in favor of a state of emergency.
“What they’ve told me is that right now they are preparing to treat people in tents because we don’t have enough beds, that we expect doctors to have to make heartbreaking decisions about who gets a heart ventilator and who doesn’t,” she said in the video.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero offered similar reasons in her announcement: “My top priority, above all else, is to protect public health. This is a painful decision that I do not take lightly. Our restaurants and small businesses need clear, uniform direction, and this order provides them exactly that.”
While cities across the state deal with new disruptions in everyday life, the spread of the virus continues in several counties. According to the latest data from the state Department of Health Services, there are three more cases, including with the first case in Navajo County.
Arizona health officials report 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday. Out of 221 tested cases, 66 tests are pending while 142 have been ruled out. The state also admits that these numbers aren't entirely reflective of the tests conducted.
Arizona public health authorities are now recommending, too, that events of more than 10 people should be canceled or postponed for the duration of the emergency.