ARIZONA NEWS

White House report suggests Arizona lacking in COVID-19 mitigation

Dec 8, 2020, 11:20 AM | Updated: 2:45 pm

PHOENIX – A recent White House Coronavirus Task Force report suggests that Arizona isn’t doing enough to suppress the spread of COVID-19.

“New hospital admissions in Arizona are rapidly increasing and mitigation must be increased,” the Nov. 29 report says.

The report, which was obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, says Arizona is far from alone in seeing COVID-19 spreading at alarming rates.

The state was actually in the middle of the pack on several measures, according to the report. Arizona had the 26th-highest rate of new cases and the 25th-highest rate of test positivity.

At the time of the report, Arizona’s rate of 370 cases for 100,000 population exceeded the national average of 349.

“Arizona has seen an increase in new cases and an increase in test positivity,” the report says. “Arizona is experiencing a full resurgence equal to the summer surge but without the needed aggressive mitigation across the state.”

The Center for Public Integrity on Tuesday distributed the task force reports for all 50 states. The recommendations for Arizona mirrored those in the reports for other states facing similar COVID-19 situations.

The report doesn’t specifically address details of Arizona’s current strategies, but it says “state mitigation efforts remain inadequate” in many areas of the country.

“If state and local policies do not reflect the seriousness of the situation, all public health officials must alert the state population directly,” the report says.

“It must be made clear that if you are over 65 or have significant health conditions, you should not enter any indoor public spaces where anyone is unmasked due to the immediate risk to your health.”

The report also says anybody under 40 who gathered with people outside their immediate household for Thanksgiving should assume they were infected.

“Most likely, you will not have symptoms; however, you are dangerous to others and you must isolate away from anyone at increased risk for severe disease and get tested immediately,” the reports says.

Widespread testing is cited as a key to reversing the trends.

“The silent community spread that precedes and continues to drive these surges can only be identified and interrupted through proactive and focused testing for both the identification of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals,” the report says.

Information about coronavirus testing at more than 500 locations statewide can be found on the Arizona Department of Health Services website.

In addition to more testing, the report says Americans need to change their behavior.

“Ensure masks at all times in public; increase physical distancing through significant reduction in capacity in public and private indoor spaces, including restaurants and bars; and ensure every American understands the clear risks of ANY family or friend interactions outside of their immediate household,” the report says.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has not implemented any significant mitigation efforts since businesses closed under his June executive order were allowed to reopen starting in August. Impacted businesses in all counties were cleared to reopen by Oct. 1 when COVID-19 spread fell under state-mandated benchmarks.

The impacted businesses — indoor gyms, bars operating as restaurants, theaters, water parks and tubing venues — won’t be in danger of being forced to close again unless all three state-tracked metrics reach the substantial spread range in their counties. Most counties, including Maricopa, have seen the numbers reach the substantial range in two metrics.

Even if all three metrics exceed the substantial benchmarks, state health officials have said measures other than closures were possible.

Ducey has resisted calls for a statewide mask mandate and has not further restricted capacity or moved to shut down businesses where people gather. He’s maintained that local mask regulations and requirements in certain venues statewide are sufficient and cover 90% of Arizona.

He has instead focused his recent policy on helping businesses stay open – such as making it easier for restaurants to expand their outdoor service areas – and funding and staffing hospitals to deal with the rising number of COVID-19 patients.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported a record 12,314 new coronavirus cases and 23 additional deaths on Tuesday, putting the state’s totals at 378,157 COVID-19 infections and 6,973 fatalities.

The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 hospital inpatients was 3,157 on Monday. That’s a 37% increase since Thanksgiving, when it was 2,301, and the most since July 17.

The number of Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in ICU beds was 744 on Monday. That’s a 40% increase since Thanksgiving, when it was 532, and the most since July 29.

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

Traffic is backed up on Interstate 10 near State Route 347 south of metro Phoenix...

KTAR.com

Report lists Phoenix, Tucson among U.S. cities with worst drivers

Two Arizona cities have landed in the top 10 of a national ranking of places with the worst drivers in the nation.

1 hour ago

Caution tape in front of police car....

KTAR.com

2 police officers injured in crash with suspected impaired driver in Phoenix

Two police officers suffered minor injuries in a two-vehicle crash in central Phoenix early Saturday morning.

3 hours ago

Follow @KTAR923...

KTAR.com

Silver Alert issued for 80-year-old woman with dementia

Authorities issued a Silver Alert on Saturday morning for a missing 80-year-old woman who suffers from dementia.

5 hours ago

(DHAZ.gov photo)...

Damon Allred

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to fund Yavapai County mine cleanup project

The Iron King Mine -- Humboldt Smelter Superfund site is set to receive $15 million in federal funding to support cleanup efforts.

6 hours ago

Group photo of band players for Cigarettes After Sex...

SuElen Rivera

Cigarettes After Sex to stop in Valley this fall during world tour

American dream pop band Cigarettes After Sex announced a stop in the Valley this fall during their upcoming world tour.

8 hours ago

Smalls Sliders signed a deal with an operating partner to open 22 locations in the Phoenix area. (S...

Brandon Brown/Phoenix Business Journal

Drew Brees-backed Smalls Sliders looks to open 22 locations across the Phoenix metro

Smalls Sliders has signed its largest franchise agreement to date to bring more than 20 locations to the Phoenix metro.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

White House report suggests Arizona lacking in COVID-19 mitigation