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Governor Ducey ends COVID-19 emergency declaration

Governor Ducey and officials with the Arizona Department of Health are still recommending Arizonans get vaccinated and boosted to protect themselves.
Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 2:49 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 30, 2022 at 4:05 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Gov. Doug Ducey has ended the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration, first issued on March 11, 2020, following the signing of a bill that extends 2,000 critical healthcare workers’ licenses through Jan. 1, 2023.

“Thanks to the hard work of many ‒ health care workers, businesses, public and private sector employees ‒ COVID-19 is no longer an emergency in Arizona,” Governor Ducey said. “This virus isn’t completely gone, but because of the vaccine and other life-saving measures, today we are better positioned to manage and mitigate it. COVID-19 challenged us in ways we never could’ve. No corner of our state – no corner of our country or the world - was spared. But we met that challenge head-on by prioritizing lives, livelihoods, and individual liberties. The time is right to move forward.”

Despite the declaration by Ducey, Arizonans may still have to wear masks in businesses that require facial coverings. In addition, public transportation, including school buses is still covered under the CDC’s nationwide mask mandate. Sky Harbor is also covered by the CDC order, requiring travelers to cover their mouth and nose in airport terminals, flights, airport buses, Sky Train and in the Rental Car Center. For more information on Sky Harbor’s facial covering mandate, visit skyharbor.com.

More than 70% of Arizonans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 60% of all Arizonans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. “I am proud of the staff at the Maricopa County Departments of Public Health and Emergency Management for coming together and leading the way on the response,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates. “Their expertise allowed the Board to stay informed and direct resources to areas of the community when and where it was needed.”

The declaration will not affect the Emergency Rental Assistance Program established during the pandemic. The program offers rent and utility assistance to eligible Arizonans impacted by the pandemic. If eligible, homeowners can receive up to $3,500 a month in combined rent and utility assistance for 18 months or a total of $63,000 in benefits. However, there will be no other assistance after the 18 months is distributed. For more information, visit des.az.gov.

A state declaring a state of emergency opens the government up for funding opportunities, National Guard support, and other forms of special measures. Despite the governor’s declaration, the national emergency declaration has been extended by President Biden, which allows for continued aid from the federal government.

Governor Ducey and officials with the Arizona Department of Health are still recommending Arizonans get vaccinated and boosted to protect themselves against the virus. Vaccines and over-the-counter tests will be available across different pharmacies and health care providers. It is recommended if you feel sick, stay at home. Officials say numbers have dropped rapidly since the start of the year. Between March 20-26, COVID cases fell to a little over 2,000; previously in January, cases were over 150,000. COVID hospitalizations have fallen to 5% of inpatient beds and 7% of ICU beds.

“I think that’s appropriate because of the state of the disease. It’s milder— very few cases. We’re not in emergency status. But the virus is going to continue to evolve, and we’re going to continue to watch it very closely,” said Dr. Dave Engalthaler with TGen.

Arizona will still be eligible for FEMA reimbursement on such services as vaccine distribution, mobilization of the National Guard, purchase and distribution of PPE, and more. Other forms of relief may be impacted, however, such as business tax credits.

“For us, it doesn’t make much of a difference. We haven’t had much guidance from the government. They have financially helped support the hospitals, and they have helped with testing and acquiring staffing which we appreciate, but state of emergency? I mean, Arizona has been kind of wild wild west for the past year and a half,” said Dr. Sam Durrani, the chief of staff at a Valley hospital.

Brittney Kaufmann, CEO of The Health System Alliance of Arizona, released a statement regarding the termination.

“For more than two years, the Health System Alliance of Arizona has worked collaboratively with state and local partners to address the needs of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank our partners and the public for your continued support of our hospitals and healthcare providers.

Although the statewide COVID-19 Emergency Declaration has ended, the increased demand for care at our hospitals has not. As we enter this new phase, we must remain vigilant and continue to follow public health guidance to keep our community healthy.”