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Phoenix skyline, Photo: Getty Images
Phoenix skyline, Photo: Getty Images

After premature reopening, Arizona becomes the nation’s coronavirus hotspot

Latinx lawmakers have called on the Arizona Governor to make swift and decisive action as cases and death toll see alarming rises.

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On May 15, after just weeks of a Stay at Home Order, Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ) issued an order to start reopening the state.

The partial reopening soon included barbershops, salons, bars, religious gatherings, movie theaters, and even gyms.

Now, the state is witnessing the consequences.

Bars are among the riskiest locations to contract coronavirus, reported Healthline. Its list of highest risk places for contracting the disease include churches, pools, and salons. Each of these types of businesses have been allowed to operate in Arizona for over a month, with limited restrictions in terms of capacity and social distancing.

As a result, Arizona has become the nation’s hotspot for coronavirus. Per capita, the infection rate is now three times higher than the state of New York. Each day sees an increase in cases, with some counties recording their largest single-day increases since the pandemic’s start.

On June 14, Arizona's infection rate reached 60.5 per 100,000 people, compared to New York's 12.5 per 100,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Coronavirus deaths in Arizona have also doubled since the start of June, from 900 to over 1,800 in just two weeks.

Arizona has never required the use of face masks, and Gov. Ducey has indicated he will not make it a requirement in the future. While the governor has acknowledged the recent spike in cases, he has said a second order is “not under discussion.”

“We put the stay-at-home order in there so we could prepare for what we are going through right now and we are prepared,” Ducey said at a press briefing. 

Fed up, multiple voices are now speaking up on Arizona’s alarming coronavirus rates. With the pandemic proven to disproportionately disrupt Black and Latinx lives, some Latinx politicians are also criticizing Ducey, urging him to rethink his policies.

“We have a cowardice epidemic paralyzing our state leadership,” tweeted Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona’s 7th congressional district. “What is he going to do now that we’ve failed to contain it?”

“Arizona needs swift and decisive action to #StopTheSpread before more lives are unnecessarily lost.”

Regina Romero, mayor of Tucson, also directed a tweet to Ducey, urging him to take decisive action as coronavirus hospitalizations continue to rise.

Ducey says hospitals in Arizona have adequate capacity to handle the surge, however Banner Health, the state's largest health system, is nearing its usual ICU bed capacity. If the current trends continue, it is at risk of exceeding it.

Though among the most severe, Arizona is not alone. Twenty-five states including Puerto Rico have seen cases increase by 10% over in two weeks, NBC News reported. Health experts say these upward trends are correlated directly to states reopening much too early nationwide.

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