In response to COVID-19, Governor Doug Ducey systematically ratcheted up efforts to reduce the spread of the virulent virus in Arizona, as an attempt to #FlattenTheCurve. Is it working?
Quick Timeline of COVID-19 Response
January 26, 2020: First COVID-19 case, patient announced recovered about twenty-six days of testing and isolation.
March 6: A 40 year-old Pinal County woman was diagnosed with COVID-19 - she was a healthcare worker
March 8: Representative Paul Gosar announces that he was in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19
March 11: Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez declares a state of emergency as a proactive measure to deal with COVID-19
March 12: Governor Doug Ducey declares a public health emergency; there are nine confirmed cases in Arizona. Major League Baseball (MLB) cancelled the remainder of Spring Training. National Basketball Association (NBA) suspended its season. National Hockey League (NHL) suspended its season indefinitely.
March 14: Most schools close for a minimum of two weeks. Later, Governor Ducey and Superintendent Hoffman announce the closure of all Arizona schools through March 27.
March 16: ASU President Michael Crow announces that classes will switch to online wherever possible for two weeks. Similar measures were taken by UofA and NAU. MLB announced that the regular season would be closed indefinitely.
March 17: The first Navajo Nation COVID-19 case was confirmed in Chilchinbito. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero declared a local emergency. Businesses were ordered to close, restaurants limited to drive-thru and takeout through the end of march. City governments in the Phoenix area also declared an emergency. Several public events were cancelled.
March 19: Governor Ducey announced that he would limit restaurant service and close bars, theaters and gyms in counties with confirmed cases of COVID-19.
March 20: Maricopa County announce first death from COVID-19 - a Maricopa man in his 50’s with underlying conditions. Governor Ducey and Superintendent Hoffman announce an extension of school closures until April 10.
March 30: Governor Ducey issued a statewide stay at home order, meaning Arizonans were barred from leaving their homes except for food, medicine and essential services. It was called Stay Home - Stay Healthy - Stay Connected. This order is in effect through the end of April. Together with Superintendent Hoffman, they announce schools will be closed through the end of the school year.
April 1: Grand Canyon closed to public, including facilities, trails and roads including Highway 64.
April 4: Salons, Barbers, Tatt Parlors and Spas defined as nonessential services, and thus are closed to the public.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has charted projections for the progress of COVID-19 as it makes its way through the United States. Not only is there a national projection, there are projections covering each state for:
- Hospital Resource Use - Will there be enough hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators should they be required?
- Deaths Per Day - How many deaths per day, and when will the peak be reached?
- Total Number of Deaths - What will the total number of deaths be by August 4?
After many of the Governor’s executive orders and other measures were put into action, the IHME projections for deaths in Arizona decreased greatly.
On March 30, the IHME suggested that the COVID-19 would peak in Arizona on April 24 with 55 deaths per day. On March 31, they dropped that to 49 per day, and on April 1, it was 40 per day. But, on April 5, they projected it would peak on April 23, with just 17 deaths per day.
The total number of deaths has also dropped in the IHME projections.
March 30: 1613 total COVID-19 by August 4.
March 31: 1575 total COVID-19 by August 4.
April 1: 1380 total COVID-19 by August 4.
April 5: 570 total COVID-19 by August 4.
There are a few things one needs to keep in mind:
- We still have about 2½ weeks before the peak hits
- These are simply projections - a fancy word for “best guess”
- Just because the state as a whole seems to be flattening the curve, it doesn’t mean that there are not individual locations within the state that may continue to increase at a faster or slower rate
- People need to continue to follow the orders which will continue to save lives.
In the meantime, perhaps one more statement should be added to Governor Ducey’s plan:
- Stay Home
- Stay Healthy
- Stay Connected ...and…
- Stay the Course