Arizona health department changes decision on COVID-19 modeling

May 7, 2020, 2:36 PM | Updated: 7:51 pm
(Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)...
(Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)
(Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

PHOENIX — A day after saying it no longer needed researchers from state universities to predict the spread of COVID-19, the Arizona health department reversed course.

The Arizona Department of Health Services said Thursday its partnership with the university coronavirus modeling team was being extended.

The Arizona State and University of Arizona researchers delivered a model April 20 that the health department said it was pleased with.

“Understanding the demands on their time, we let them know that we were putting the modeling project on pause until we could bring them back to assist with modeling COVID-19 resource requirements during the influenza season,” the department said in a statement Thursday.

“Since then, the universities and team members have expressed a willingness to continue doing this work.”

The reversal came following an onslaught of criticism after Wednesday’s announcement that the partnership was ending.

The department said Wednesday it would rely on “real-time, Arizona specific data” that can be found on its COVID-19 data dashboard.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) was among those criticizing the announcement, issuing the following statement before the decision was reversed:

The governor’s choice to disregard the science that should be the basis of Arizona public health policies – and the White House’s guidelines for reopening – is concerning and disappointing. I’m grateful that Arizona State University and the University of Arizona will continue this work, and I plan to rely on their findings and conclusions in my work to keep Arizonans healthy, safe, and economically secure.

A health department spokesman said Wednesday the research team finished its work last month, right as the team’s leader, Dr. Timothy Lant of Arizona State Univeristy, had urged gradually reopening Arizona’s economy in late May.

Last month, Lant told KTAR News 92.3 FM that timeline would be the best to avoid a possible spike in coronavirus cases in Arizona.

“We’ve estimated a range of 2,000 to 4,000 deaths by Aug. 1 in scenarios where we reopen without mitigation,” Lant said.

However, Gov. Doug Ducey has allowed gradual reopening now, including for retailers on Friday and restaurant dining rooms on Monday, while ordering social distancing and constant disinfecting of their areas.

In a tweet, U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) blasted Ducey for his “politically motivated” ending of the team.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Peter Samore contributed to this report.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)...

Iowa man accused of making election-related threats to Arizona officials

An Iowa man was arrested on Thursday for allegedly sending election-related threats to two Arizona officials last year, including Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman, authorities said.
16 hours ago
(Facebook Photos/ Senator Mark Kelly, Blake Masters for Senate and...

Watch: Arizona US Senate candidates Kelly, Masters, Victor share debate stage

With the start of early voting a week away, Arizona’s three U.S. Senate candidates are scheduled to share the stage Thursday in a live debate.
16 hours ago
Bryant James Walker (Chandler Police Department Photo)...

Stalking, public indecency suspect arrested by Chandler police

Police in Chandler said Thursday they arrested a Mesa man suspected of public indecency and felony stalking.
16 hours ago
(Abrazo Health Photo)...
Alex Weiner

Abrazo West Campus acquires Arizona’s 1st Loop-X robot to assist spine surgeries

Abrazo West Campus in Goodyear is adding the new Loop-X robot to assist doctors in spine surgery operating rooms.
16 hours ago
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is running for governor, speaks during a Democratic Par...
Kevin Stone

Here’s what Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs says about Arizona abortion laws

Katie Hobbs, the Democratic nominee for Arizona governor, said the state’s near-total abortion ban goes against the will of the people and she’d work to change it if elected.
16 hours ago
Murad Dervish (University of Arizona Police Department Photo)...

Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of professor at University of Arizona

A University of Arizona professor was fatally shot at the Tucson campus Wednesday, and police said a former student was taken into custody.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Arizona health department changes decision on COVID-19 modeling