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2 more Arizona counties hit COVID-19 benchmarks for businesses to reopen

PHOENIX – And then there was one.

Businesses that were closed under executive order can now reopen in Yuma and Gila counties after Thursday’s weekly update to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ COVID-19 business dashboard.

That leaves Graham County as the only place in Arizona in the substantial spread range, meaning indoor gyms, bars operating as restaurants, theaters, water parks and tubing operators must remain shuttered there.

Yuma and Gila joined Maricopa, Pima, Mohave, Coconino, Navajo, Apache, Yavapai, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties in the moderate stage. The impacted businesses there have been permitted to reopen under capacity restrictions and while following other health safety requirements that vary by industry.

Greenlee County is in the minimal stage, which means the capacity limits there have been raised for certain businesses.

La Paz County slipped from minimal to moderate in the past week, but state health officials have said they wouldn’t force counties to back up until their metrics show sustained increases.

Spread stage is based on benchmarks in three metrics that must be hit for at least the two most recent weeks of data, which is updated each Thursday on the business dashboard.

The benchmark data updated each week is at least 12 days old to account for lags in reporting, ensuring that assessments are based on accurate statistics. Therefore, the latest update covers the weeks starting Aug. 23 and 30 (through Sept. 5).

The moderate spread range is defined as 10-100 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, a PCR test positive percentage rate of 5-10% and a rate of hospital visits for COVID-like illness of 5-10%.

Minimal spread is defined as fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 residents, a positive test rate below 5% and a hospital COVID-like illness rate below 5%.

Maricopa County is at least two weeks away, and probably longer, from entering the minimal spread stage because cases per 100,000 have been over 40.

However, the Phoenix area is doing well in the other metrics and has been under the minimal threshold for hospital COVID-like illness visits for more than two weeks and for percent positivity for one week.

Once the moderate benchmarks are hit, a business has to submit an online attestation form and post it in a conspicuous location at the facility before it resumes operations.

Indoor gyms and fitness centers can operate at 25% of capacity in the moderate range and 50% of capacity in the minimal range.

Bars and nightclubs that offer dine-in restaurant service can operate at 50% of capacity in both the moderate and minimal ranges.

Indoor theaters are limited to 50% capacity in both the moderate and minimal ranges.

Water parks/tubing operators can operate at 50% capacity in both the moderate and minimal ranges.

For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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