PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – Arizona's Family spoke with Dr. Cara Christ about the spike in coronavirus cases Arizona has seen in recent weeks since reopening in mid-May.

New numbers on Thursday

  • New cases reported: 3,333
  • New deaths reported: 37
  • Total cases: 87,425
  • Total deaths:1,757

On Wednesday, Arizona set a new one-day record, reporting more than 4,800 new coronavirus cases. As we go into a long holiday weekend, Christ says Arizonans need to do their part to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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"We are asking people to stay in groups less than 10," she said. You are safer at home. And if you do need to leave, make sure you wear a mask."

On Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order closing bars, gyms, movie theaters, water parks, and tubing rentals. He called the move a "one-month pause," sayings the closures will help relieve stress on the healthcare system and give time for new transmission to slow.

State leaders are stressing ahead of the 4th of July weekend to consider staying home this year.

Christ is hoping Arizona families will heed the warning and avoid large gatherings this holiday weekend that likely contributed to state cases and deaths increasing since our stay-at-home order was lifted May 15.

"This is now our surge!" Christ said.

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So why are gyms and bars being shut back down, while other places like casinos stay open?

"There has been evidence of increased breathing, especially when you are exercising, when you are singing, when you are yelling, or when you are shouting," Christ explained Thursday. "We know that increases the transmission of COVID-19. We also know that in that type of environment, it's very had to wear a mask. It's also difficult to physically distance, and it's difficult to disinfect the machinery. We just want to make sure Arizonans are taking every precaution to prevent ... transmitting COVID-19."

Casinos, like other businesses, she says, will still be required to follow state safety guidelines, though we have seen plenty of evidence and footage going around that their crowds haven't always been regulated or enforced.

It's that entitlement, that need to get out of the house and mingle, Christ fears, could send us into an even deeper spiral.

"The number of people who have no symptoms or who have very mild symptoms makes this disease very hard to get in front of because you don't know who those people are," Christ said.

She acknowledges Arizona needs to ramp-up testing and is reminding everyone, a negative test today, doesn't mean you're in the clear and won't get it tomorrow, the next day, week, or month.

Some gyms have defied the order and are fighting back.

As for the "crisis standard of care" at hospitals that we've heard so much about this week, Christ says people do not need to panic.

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"That is not where Arizona is at this time," she said. "We want to reassure Arizonans. This is a framework. It's a plan that allows our hospitals to have a protocol that provides them with civil liability protections, a plan in case there are scarce resources. What we want Arizonans to know is that our hospitals are getting prepared. ... But Arizona is not triaging at this point. ... You will receive care when you go to a hospital."

Arizona's Family also asked Christ point-blank if she would have reopened Arizona on May 15 if the decision were hers alone.

"We squarely met the gating criteria," she said. "We were starting to see some concerning health impacts from people staying at home. So yes, we would have still opened."

But she also said there are things she would have done differently.

"I think we would have given much stronger recommendations about the masks ..., and really encouraging Arizonans that while we are slowly opening back up, this isn't the green light to speed."


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