PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – As COVID-19 cases in Arizona continue to rise, one Harvard doctor says state leaders need to act fast to make major changes in the state.

“We don't have to guess or go with gut instinct to understand how serious a pandemic is,” Dr. Thomas Tsai said. “We have actual hard facts hard data from other states who are a few months ahead of where Arizona is currently. We can look to what happened in Massachusetts, what happened in New York, what happened in New Jersey, to learn, but the important thing is that we don't have to condemn ourselves to repeat history."

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Monday afternoon Gov. Doug Ducey announced he’d close some businesses down until the end of July. That includes the closure of bars, gyms, movie theaters, water parks and water tubing facilities. Gov. Ducey’s executive order also bans groups of larger than 50 people and no more than 10 people at pools.

harvard doctor

"There's no need to gamble with people's lives or livelihoods here,” Dr. Tsai said. 

At the same time, masks are required in all of Maricopa County. Dr. Tsai says masks are important, but it’s only part of the remedy.

"There's no need to gamble with people's lives or livelihoods here,” he said. “The way to save lives, improve health and reopen the economy is to make sure that we're testing broadly, so we can get ahead of the infection, that we're wearing masks to limit the spread of infection and still observing social distancing and physical distancing to make sure that we can get the lid back on this pandemic which is growing out of proportion in Arizona."

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Dr. Tsai also says broad testing and contact tracing are vital to slow the spread. For example, to mitigate or flatten the curve, Arizona needs to test at least 74,000 people a day, and if you try to suppress COVID-19 cases in the state, there needs to be more than 276,000 tests a day.

covid testing

Our current testing numbers are far less than either of those target numbers. 

Our current testing numbers are far less than either of those target numbers. Without proper testing, it’s possible Arizonans will face the same crisis as Italy earlier this year.

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"It's definitely headed that direction,” he said. "The important part is that Arizona has a critical window of opportunity in order to ramp up testing now and really reinforce what we know works. We know what the game plan is to beat the pandemic. It's not rocket science."


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