Arizona's COVID-19 surge continues. The average number of new cases each day has passed 1,300 and is continuing to rise. The last time daily cases were this high was in early August and mid-July.
Numbers are not increasing quite as quickly as they were in June. Cases were doubling each week then, while now it's taking closer to three weeks, Joshua LaBaer, the executive director of ASU's Biodesign Institute, told reporters last Wednesday. This is no reason to celebrate. The state may start to see 2,000 new cases each day within the next month at this rate, he said. Large Halloween and Thanksgiving gatherings could kick numbers even higher. LaBaer attributed increases in part to small gatherings and "COVID-19 fatigue" that causes Arizonans and some local jurisdictions to not take COVID-19 seriously.
"We know that there is a storm ahead of us and it's not here," Governor Doug Ducey said in his closing remarks at a press conference last Thursday. At his first COVID-19 briefing in weeks, Ducey thanked Arizonans for "weathering" the storm so far, but claimed that a spike has not hit Arizona yet. At the same event, Department of Health Services (DHS) director Cara Christ acknowledged that numbers are going the wrong direction and said the agency is on high alert. Christ and Ducey implored Arizonans to continuing wearing masks, physically distancing and taking other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Christ touted the state's continuing efforts to address COVID-19, but the two did not announce any new initiatives to address COVID-19's spread.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema blasted Ducey's lack of action. "The best thing to do when you see the very recent past (early June) repeating itself is ... nothing. Wait, that doesn’t seem right," the Democrat and Ducey critic wrote on Twitter.
The best thing to do when you see the very recent past (early June) repeating itself is ... nothing.— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) October 29, 2020
Wait, that doesn’t seem right.
AZ, don’t wait for @dougducey to take action. You can take steps to protect yourself & your family.
Wear a mask, stay home, & avoid gatherings. https://t.co/r3nyajWsTE
Ducey also took heat for his claim that changing the criteria to leave schools open even they had higher levels of COVID-19 spread was done at the request of school leaders. Shortly after Ducey made that claim at his Thursday press conference, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman tweeted that her department did not request the change. A number of education leaders told the Arizona Republic that they were unaware of and disagreed with the change. On Friday, Hoffman and Christ issued a joint statement admitting to a "communications breakdown," and DHS updated its guidance to clarify that schools could make individual decisions on moving back to distance learning.
Updated @azdhs guidance includes clarification that:— AZ Department of Ed (@azedschools) October 30, 2020
? with the support of county health, schools may move to distance learning even if only one metric is in the red category
? schools are the final decision-making authority for selecting an instruction model pic.twitter.com/9qKY22LjC9
The governor's COVID-19 eviction moratorium has expired and legal-aid providers are advising anyone who had sought relief under it to invoke the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's more comprehensive moratorium. You can learn more about how to do that here.
Today's election day! Be sure to vote. Here's some information about how Maricopa County is implementing COVID-19 precautions at voting centers. If you're worried about lines, you can check wait times here.
URGENT NOTICE FOR ARIZONA TENANTS:— CLS AZ (@CLSArizona) October 29, 2020
Please see the attached press release, forms, and flyers regarding the expiration of the Governors Executive Order 2020-49, and what this means for tenants currently protected under this order.
The EO expiration date is October 31, 2020. pic.twitter.com/kR2EZvP1Bg