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No changes in Arizona’s COVID-19 benchmarks for schools, businesses

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – It was business – and schools – as usual after Thursday’s update of Arizona’s COVID-19 dashboards.

Each of the state’s 15 counties remained in the same spread stage as last week on Arizona Department of Health Services two dashboards, for businesses and schools.

Greenlee County has reached the minimal stage in each dashboard, while the rest of the state has settled into the moderate stage.

The dashboards are updated every Thursday. The new data 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 Sept. 13 and 20 (through Sept. 26).

The schools benchmarks are designed as recommendations that districts can use, or ignore if they want, in determining their level of opening.

The health department recommends a hybrid learning model – a blend of virtual and on-campus instruction – for areas in the moderate range, and says it’s safe to resume full in-person classes in the minimal stage.

Even though no counties are in the substantial spread stage, some districts have opted to keep all of their classes online for the time being.

The business benchmarks are state requirements that had to be met before indoor gyms, bars operating as restaurants, theaters, water parks and tubing venues — which had been closed June 29 under executive order — were permitted to reopen.

Both dashboards are based on levels set by the health department in three metrics: COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, percent positivity of diagnostic testing and percentage of hospital visits for COVID-like illnesses.

All three benchmarks had to be reached for at least two consecutive weeks for counties to have entered reopening phases. Counties that have reached reopening levels won’t have their official statuses downgraded unless they fall into the substantial range for all three metrics.

The businesses covered under the executive order had to agree to adhere to capacity restrictions and COVID-19 safety protocols that vary by industry before resuming operations.

Indoor gyms and fitness centers are permitted to 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.

Multiple businesses that had been allowed to reopen have been closed by the state for violating health protocols, and some of them have been allowed to open again.

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

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

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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