PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A total of 857 people have died from the coronavirus and there are 17,777 cases in Arizona as of Thursday evening.
Maricopa County, the state's most populous location, has the most cases -- 8,896. While there are confirmed COVID-19 cases in each of Arizona's 15 counties, three counties (Graham, Greenlee and Santa Cruz) have not seen any deaths and three more (Cochise, Gila and La Paz) report fewer than three deaths each.
Governor Ducey rolls out plans for the AZCares Fund
The federal CARES Act money is getting dispersed to the United States. Gov. Doug Ducey has worked with Arizona mayors to make sure that Arizona's funds get spread out in areas that are in need of the assistance that will focus on smaller and more rural cities.
The state program is called the AZCares Fund and will provide $600 million in coronavirus relief and recovery money to local governments and nonprofits. The money will come from $1.9 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds that Ducey can spend at his discretion.
Gov. Ducey has worked with Arizona mayors to make sure that Arizona's funds get spread out in areas that are in need of the assistance that will focus on smaller and more rural cities.
Gov. Ducey announced the plan on Wednesday during a roundtable with eight mayors from cities and towns around the state. The program will include $441 million in direct, flexible funding to cities, towns, and counties that didn't receive direct funding by the federal government early this year.
Gov. Ducey: Arizona is in Phase One of reopening
Gov. Ducey said that Arizona is still in Phase One out of three phases guiding reopening handed down by the federal government. Ducey said he hopes to reopen schools in the fall as part of Phase Two. He said Arizona is headed in the right direction as COVID-like-illness and influenza-like symptomatic cases are continuing to decline.
Governor Ducey held his first press conference since letting his Stay-At-Home Order expired last Friday.
According to Ducey, the number of positive COVID-19 tests is dropping. The Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) has been working to expand testing at prisons for inmates and correctional officers. They have been working on a plan to make sure all residents and staff in long-term care and skilled nursing facilities can be tested as well as receive the assistance they need.
In addition to the governor's press conference, the NCAA also announced that they will resume football, men's and women's basketball and voluntary activities starting June 1 through June 30.
Arizona's recovery continues with new Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger order
The next phase of Arizona's recovery begins Saturday, May 16 with Gov. Ducey's new executive order, Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger. The order ends the previous stay-at-home order and allows gyms, pools, movie theaters, restaurants and places of worship to reopen while following social distancing guidelines. The order also aims to ramp up testing ability, extending Arizona's testing blitz into the next two weekends.
The Governor's Office tweeted out that Arizonans still need to "act responsibly" as the state economy reopens in the first phase of his plan, "Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger."
Arizona Re-Opening, Stay-at-Home Order Expires
Gov. Doug Ducey announced that gyms and public pools may reopen on Wednesday, May 13. He also announced that Arizona's Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected order would expire on May 15 as planned. Ducey also stated that major league sports games can continue without fans.
He urges caution and to keep maintaining safety protocols. "This is not a green light to speed; this is a green light to proceed," he said.
Gyms and fitness centers can reopen May 13.
On the day some retail stores were give the green light to open again, Ducey announced that salons and barbershops can reopen May 8, and that restaurants can reopen their dining areas on May 11.
New Peak Date
We’ve heard rumblings that the peak of the coronavirus crisis in Arizona might be behind us, but Dr. Cara Christ, the head of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said in a blog on April 22 that our peak might still be ahead of us – a month or more away.
Early on the pandemic, health care experts estimated that biggest need for resources for COVID-19 patients would happen sometime in mid- to late April.
Facilities that meet the specified standards will need to receive approval from the Department of Health Services before resuming elective surgeries.
Christ noted that there are several models and estimates. One model from HealthData.org indicates that as of today – April 22 – “Arizona has already passed our peak resource utilization ….” Another model from COVIDActNow.org shows that Arizona should “be able to meet any COVID-19 healthcare requirements with our current available capacity and our current mitigation strategies in place.”
AZDHS teamed up with experts from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona to do a deep dive and develop a model that’s specific to Arizona. It tells a different story. “The most recent baseline estimates a peak need for 600 hospital beds and 300 ICU beds around May 22.”
The federal model for Arizona, which comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, puts Arizona’s COVID-19 peak around June 11. That’s “assuming our mitigation strategies are lifted at the end of the current Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected order on April 30th.”
Christ said Arizona has planned for the worst-case scenario “to make sure every Arizonan can access the level of care they need at the time they need it.” She said that’s why plans for alternate COVID-19 care sites like the one at the recently defunct St. Luke’s Hospital and the Arizona Surge Line, which is mean to prevent a virus surge at any single hospital, are still in the works.
This information is updated when the Arizona Department of Health Services releases new data, which happens every day at about 9 a.m.