SUN CITY WEST, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- The Recreation Centers of Sun City West says it will close its seven golf courses at the end of the day Monday. The timing is designed to lower resident and employee exposure as Arizona heads into its estimated peak COVID-19 weeks.
According to the University of Washington’s COVID-19 model, Arizona is expected to see its peak number of cases on April 26, and peak deaths per day on April 27.
For the first time ever, the city's rec centers will be shuttered, closing their doors at 5 p.m. Thursday for a two week period.
Concerns about the coronavirus prompted Sun City West to shut down all recreation centers back in March. Now, the city says this is the next stop to keep residents safe.
“Obviously, those are projections, and the estimates change almost daily,” said General Manager Bill Schwind. “But our decision to close our last open amenity – golf – is based on watching these estimated dates, as well as the growing concern over our age group, which is most susceptible to this disease.”
“The risk of being admitted to a hospital, Intensive Care Unit, or dying due to Covid-19 infection increases with age," states Maricopa County Public Health’s COVID-19 Daily Report. “People who are 65+ years of age OR who have a chronic medical condition area at highest risk for severe disease.”
“Early interventions by the Rec Centers have saved lives in the community of Sun City West,” said Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal Eric Kriwer with Arizona Fire and Medical Authority. “We are just entering our curve in the state. Now we need to be focused during the coming weeks on trying to stay home unless leaving is essential, wearing masks when in public, practicing excellent hand washing, and limiting exposure by social/physical distancing. “Further action such as temporarily holding off on golfing and keeping gatherings at a minimum will continue to save lives in our community,” Kriwer added. “Be a great neighbor, reach out via telephone or Facetime, send emails to loved ones, and together, we will get past this.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services just releases new details information about the coronavirus in Arizona, including a breakdown of cases by ZIP code.
According to a letter posted on the Facebook page for the Recreation Centers of Sun City West, the area has an estimated 6 to 10 confirmed cases as of Monday, lower than the surrounding zip codes, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services’ newly published zip code map.
At the state level, 78 of the 115 deaths as of Sunday were 65 and older. For Maricopa County, the numbers show 79 percent of those who died in the county from COVID-19 were 65 or older; 63 percent had a chronic medical condition. Patients with one of those two high risk categories combined (age or chronic condition) accounted for 96 percent of the deaths in Maricopa County.
“This is the demographic in Sun City West. Our average age is 74, and many residents have chronic conditions,” said Schwind. “We’ve kept golf open as long as we thought it was safe. But with cases in Sun City West increasing and the peak just around the corner, it’s time to close them and let everyone get through this peak safely.”
The golf courses will close at the end of business on Monday, April 13. Sun City West joins the 45 percent of golf courses that have closed nationally due to COVID-19.
All residents are being advised that the closures mean no walking, biking, golfing or other activities will be allowed. Flags and cups have been removed from the course to discourage trespassing. To ensure residents comply with the closures, player assistants who usually work the courses to help golfers during play will be reassigned to patrol the courses and ensure there is no trespassing.
According to the letter posted on the Facebook page for the Recreation Centers of Sun City West, member dues WILL NOT be prorated due to the pandemic. For an explanation of what member dues fund, visit suncitywest.com/covid19. The city says that those who underpay on their dues will not be in good standing when the Rec Centers reopen.