PHOENIX – Arizona set a record Tuesday for the number of new COVID-19 cases in a day, the second record in less than a week, with 3,591 new cases confirmed by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The department also reported 42 deaths since Monday, one of the highest death tolls since the first case of the novel coronavirus that causes the disease was detected in the state in late January.
They are the latest in a week of surging numbers, when the number of new cases averaged 2,725 a day – more than twice the previous seven-day average. They also come as counties and cities around Arizona have mandated that people wear masks in public.
It was the surge in cases that led Gov. Doug Ducey last week to allow local governments to pass their own restrictions, saying “what we’re seeing today concerns us.”
Phoenix was one of the first cities to adopt a mask mandate Friday, and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors subsequently adopted the mandate for the entire county. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego told WBUR on June 12 that the mask requirement was needed because “people just went back to normal,” particularly young people who she said are experiencing the fastest rate of increase.
Even as she urged people attending a speech Tuesday by President Donald Trump to wear masks – including Trump and Ducey – Gallego said Monday that the mask requirement has been well-received by most Phoenix residents.
“We’ve seen tremendous compliance with the mask ordinance that went into effect this weekend,” she said in a statement. “Public health is a group effort, not a partisan issue. It requires the participation of every resident and level of government.”
As of Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 58,179 cases of COVID-19 and 1,384 deaths in the state. It said 589,754 tests for COVID-19 have been completed in public and private labs in Arizona, and 8.6% of tests have come back positive for the virus.
Organizers: Crowd at Trump speech will observe mask rule
Trump’s appearance Tuesday afternoon at the Dream City Church in north Phoenix was expected to draw thousands of mostly young attendees, whom organizers said are expected to comply with the city’s mask ordinance, The Arizona Republic reported. It said more than 3,000 are expected to attend what was being billed as “An Address to Young Americans.”
The visit followed a tour of border wall construction in Yuma earlier in the day. It will be Trump’s third visit to Phoenix in five months, a time when COVID-19 cases in the state have climbed steadily.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge Trump in the Nov. 3 election, criticized the president’s decision to hold rallies in the state, calling it “reckless and irresponsible.”
Rising cases force restaurants to shut down again
Several popular restaurants across the Valley have closed their doors as the state grapples with surging COVID-19 cases, Fox10 reported. The move comes just weeks after restaurants were allowed to reopen after the state’s stay-at-home order halted dine-in service. But some restaurant owners said they felt they had to cut back out of concern for the health and safety of their employees and customers.
Mesa company to make 12 million masks per week
Officials with US Power AZ PPE say the company is prepared to start manufacturing as many as 12.5 million disposable surgical face masks a week. The company, which was formed at the start of the pandemic, told the East Valley Tribune that it plans to sell three-ply masks that are at 95% effective against viruses to wholesalers for wider distribution.
Longer waits for COVID-19 test results
The steady rise in COVID-19 cases across Arizona has prompted many people to seek testing, which has left health care providers struggling to keep up. “Because the labs are backlogged, it just means that when people get tested, they often have to wait five to seven days to get their PCR swab results,” Dr. Natasha Bhuyan told AZFamily.
Vaccines could be coming soon, top epidemiologist says
Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress on Tuesday that a vaccine could be available by the end of the year or the beginning of 2021, but he warned that this isn’t the time to let down our guard. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the next few weeks will be crucial to tamping down disease hotspots.
Fauci has not advised his team to slow testing, a topic that became controversial after Trump said at a Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that he asked officials slow down testing – a statement he later said was a joke. KTAR News reported that the U.S. has tested more than 27 million people, with about 2.3 million – or 8.4% — testing positive.
Safety measures for fishing during the pandemic
The Arizona Game & Fish Department recently released a video explaining how anglers can stay safe on the water during the pandemic. As long as those guidelines are followed, wetting a line is safe, Cronkite News reported. “Fishing licenses are available online, so there’s no need to put yourself at risk by buying one in person. The guidelines also recommend not sharing gear with others.”
How to help
Arizona Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley are in need of donations during the COVID-19 pandemic in their efforts to stay open and serve their members as well as the greater community. Cleaning supplies and hand sanitizers can be dropped off at any open club, and donations can be made online at https://bgcmp.org/donate/.