2020 coronavirus pandemic in Arizona
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Map of the outbreak in Arizona by number of cases (as of March 27)
100+ Confirmed cases
50-99 Confirmed cases
25-49 Confirmed cases
10-24 Confirmed cases
5–9 Confirmed cases
1-4 Confirmed cases
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Arizona was announced by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) on January 26, 2020. A 20-year-old male student of Arizona State University (ASU), who had traveled to Wuhan, China, the point of origin of the outbreak was diagnosed with the virus and placed into isolation. Twenty-six days after the initial diagnosis and subsequent isolation, and after repeated negative tests for the coronavirus, the student was released from isolation and has since made a full recovery. This case was the fifth reported coronavirus case overall in the United States at the time of the confirmation.
On March 6, a woman from Pinal County was diagnosed with COVID-19. The woman, in her 40s, is a healthcare worker and was hospitalized at a Phoenix-area hospital, according to the Pinal County Public Health Department. This case was the first instance in Arizona of community spread, or where the source of the infection is unknown.
On March 7, the Arizona Republic reported that a Phoenix-area man in his 20s posted a video on YouTube stating that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 3 after traveling to Paris. The Republic did not name the man to protect his privacy and the video was later removed from YouTube. When the Republic contacted the man via Instagram, he declined to comment, then disabled public access to his Instagram profile. According to his LinkedIn page, the man worked for Riot House, a nightclub in the east/northeast Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale. On March 5, Riot House announced on Facebook that an employee "who has a communicable disease" visited the establishment around midnight on March 1, and had also been inside El Hefe, another establishment owned by the same parent company, around the same time. Riot House said they brought in a professional "medical-grade" cleaning company to deep-clean the two establishments per the guidance of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. In the Republic report, it was mentioned that the department shared a statement on Twitter on March 5 saying that they had "interviewed the case and contacted all identified close contacts." The diagnosed man was apparently recovering in home isolation at last report.
U.S. Representative Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) announced on March 8 that he and several of his staff had come into contact with an individual who soon afterward tested positive for COVID-19. The exposure happened at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which was held in the Washington, D.C, area (Fort Washington, MD) February 26–29. Gosar and the staff members went into self-isolation.
On March 11, Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation (a large portion of which is located in northeastern Arizona) declared a state of emergency as a proactive measure to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency on March 12. Dr. Cara Christ, director of ADHS, said there were no plans to limit large public gatherings as governors in other states have done.
As of March 12, there were nine confirmed cases of coronavirus in Arizona, including five from the same household in Pinal County (reportedly the household of the healthcare worker announced as being positive for COVID-19 on March 6).
Arizona State University President Michael Crow announced that school would switch beginning March 16 to online instruction "wherever possible" for a period of two weeks over concerns about the virus. Similar measures were also taken by the University of Arizona (which announced it was extending its then-current spring break period by an additional two days before switching to online instruction) and Northern Arizona University. On March 20, the University of Arizona announced that spring graduation ceremonies, scheduled for May 15, would be canceled, and an "alternate graduation experience" provided instead.
On March 17, the first COVID-19 case within the Navajo Nation was confirmed in a 46-year-old resident of the Chilchinbito. Further measures, including restrictions on non-essential businesses on tribal land in an effort to limit visits by outside tourists, were announced on March 18; three tribal residents reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 as of the 18th. As of March 19, a total of 14 cases were identified within the Navajo Nation most of which had reported symptoms to the Kayenta Indian Health Service Unit in Kayenta, Arizona. Nine other Native American tribes, out of 22 in the state of Arizona, had also declared states of emergency applicable to their tribal lands.
Tucson mayor Regina Romero declared a local emergency on March 17, ordering many businesses to close, limiting restaurants to drive-thru and takeout. The emergency proclamation was released on the afternoon of St. Patrick's Day, one of the busiest drinking days of the year. All bars, theaters, museums, gyms, bowling alleys and other recreation and entertainment businesses were under a mandatory shutdown as of 8 p.m. and remain closed through the end of March. Among the exceptions: grocery stores, pharmacies, food pantries, banks, or vendors located at universities, houses of worship, at care homes and the Tucson airport. It does not affect similar Pima County businesses outside of the city limits. Similar emergency declarations were announced by other city governments in the Phoenix area, led by mayor Kate Gallego of the city of Phoenix. These measures came after U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D) admonished state and local leaders (on March 16) for not doing enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Arizona, as compared to what leaders in other states were doing.
Several springtime public events in Tucson were canceled as a result of concerns over COVID-19, including the Tucson Festival of Books (held on the University of Arizona campus), the Fourth Avenue Street Fair, the Tucson Folk Festival, and the Pima County Fair.
Governor Ducey announced March 19 that he would limit restaurant service and close bars, theaters and gyms in counties with confirmed cases of COVID-19. This directive, to take effect upon close of business March 20, would apply to six counties: Maricopa, which had 22 cases as of March 19; Pinal, which had 10; Pima, which had seven; Navajo, which had three; Coconino, which had one; and Graham, which had one. Ducey also called on the Arizona National Guard to help grocery stores and food banks restock shelves to protect food supplies; halted all elective surgeries "to free up medical resources and maintain the capacity for hospitals and providers to continue offering vital services;" delayed expiration dates for Arizona drivers licenses, so that residents who are 65 or older could renew them without waiting in line; authorized restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages alongside food, and allowed manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to buy back unopened products from restaurants, bars and clubs. Ducey faced widespread criticism in the days prior to this directive from lawmakers and constituents who felt he was responding too slowly to the COVID-19 crisis. On March 20, Ducey further stated that he saw no reason to go beyond that directive and issue a statewide stay-at-home order in Arizona as his counterparts in New York, California, and some other states had done.
On March 20, ADHS and Maricopa County health officials announced the first death in the state from COVID-19: a Maricopa County man in his 50s with underlying health conditions.
Major League Baseball (MLB) cancelled the remainder of spring training on March 12, affecting ten separate Cactus League venues in the Phoenix area (and over 66,000 seasonal and 2,000 volunteer jobs), and on March 16, MLB announced that the regular season would be postponed indefinitely, after the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to restrict events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, affecting every team that trains in Arizona: the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and the Texas Rangers. The Cactus League attracts over 1 million visitors to the state and generates more than $600 million a year in economic impact to the greater Phoenix metropolitan economy.
In the National Basketball Association, the season was suspended for 30 days starting on March 12, affecting the Phoenix Suns. On March 19, Suns guard Devin Booker announced a pledge of $100,000 to launch a donation campaign on video streaming platform Twitch, which would be matched by Phoenix Suns Charities. The funds would benefit local Phoenix area charities assisting seniors, families and children, and help with local healthcare initiatives during the COVID-19 crisis including drive-through clinics.
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