Oct 29, 2020
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript October 29
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey held a press conference on October 29 to provide coronavirus updates amid a rise in cases. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Governor Doug Ducey: (00:13)
Good afternoon and I want to say that it’s good to see everyone. And thank you for joining us today at St. Mary’s Food Bank. With me today are Tom Kertis, the President and CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank, Dr. Cara Christ, who’s the Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services and Major General Mick McGuire from the Arizona National Guard. St. Mary’s Food Bank is the world’s first food bank started here in 1967 by John van Hengel, a man given $3,000 in an empty warehouse to make his dream of providing food to those in need a reality.
Governor Doug Ducey: (00:54)
And boy, have they brought this to life here. Here with community support, countless Arizonans in need are provided with food. And it’s here that the generosity of our citizens to help their fellow neighbor during times of challenges on full display all year long. This year as the world faces unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Mary’s has really risen to the occasion, Tom. We’re so grateful for your work and for the work of everyone here from full-time staff, to all the volunteers that you have.
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:30)
We’ve got an announcement today about how we are partnering with our food banks as we head into the holidays. But I want to start with an update on our biggest challenge we face this year, COVID-19. Across the country, cases of COVID-19 are increasing and Arizona is no different. We’ve been through this before, and we’ve learned what works to combat this virus. We’ve had time to prepare. The Department of Health Services is partnering with county public health officials to address local hotspots with the largest spikes.
Governor Doug Ducey: (02:09)
And they are also working closely with schools to prevent and respond to outbreaks in those settings. With enhanced guidelines in place for schools and businesses and with the leadership of our educators and our business community, I’m confident that we can continue to protect public health and keep our economy moving during this time. I want to turn it over to Dr. Christ for the latest. Doctor.
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (02:38)
Thank you, Governor Ducey. So I wanted to provide an update on the trends our public health experts are seeing an Arizona and the steps we’re taking to protect Arizonans. We are seeing the spread of COVID-19 moving in the wrong direction and public health officials across the state are working in collaboration to control this pandemic. To date, a total of 242,480 cases have been reported to public health. The recent increase in cases has resulted in an increase in the COVID-19 rates in many counties.
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (03:11)
And last week, the percent positivity increased to 6.3%. I want you to know that at the Arizona Department of Health Services, we remain on high alert. We have worked to contain COVID-19 from all angles and we continue to take further action in light of recent increases. Our actions to date include increasing access to testing, increasing hospital capacity and ensuring businesses and schools are partnering in mitigating this spread.
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (03:41)
Over the last few months, we’ve worked to build up our lab capacity, ensuring every Arizonan has access to COVID-19 testing with quick turnaround times. There were approximately 76,000 to 87,000 diagnostic COVID-19 tests conducted each week over the last two weeks. And our major laboratories are currently reporting less than a 24 to 48 hour turnaround time. And there are approximately 500 locations where Arizonans can get tested. And we’ve enhanced contact tracing at the state and local levels to ensure that once a case is identified, every effort is made to contain it from spreading further.
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (04:20)
Over the past few weeks, Arizona has seen a gradual increase in the seven-day average of cases and hospital usage. We are working closely with our hospital providers to monitor capacity, and we have invested significantly to ensure all Arizonans have access to care. To date, we’ve invested almost $150 million for our hospitals and healthcare partners, including $91 million for the purchase of PPE, $34 million to augment Arizona’s hospital staffing resources. $10 million to increase hospital bed capacity by supporting alternative post-acute care for COVID-19 patients and $10 million to the Arizona Coalition for the Health Care Emergency Response to purchase and distribute 660 ventilators to hospitals.
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (05:10)
As businesses reopen, we developed requirements to implement mitigation measures, such as reduced capacity and requiring masks. And these requirements are being enforced. As of yesterday, we have received almost 1900 unique complaints about establishments out of a total of 3,500 complaints. Of those unique complaints, 89% have been addressed and closed. And almost 400 onsite investigations and 1300 technical assistance and education calls have been completed.
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (05:43)
We have seven counties who have agreed to investigate complaints and we have approximately 32 investigators at ADHS who continue to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 mitigation requirements. We’ve worked closely the education community to ensure the safe reopening of our schools, holding weekly meetings with local health officials in the Department of Education. During these conversations, our partners expressed concerns about the instability that would occur if recommendations to move back to virtual learning were based on a change in a single benchmark, especially in smaller rural counties.
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (06:18)
This variability could cause weekly shifts in educational delivery model recommendations, which would result in uncertainty for families and schools as they plan for the upcoming weeks. To address this, we recommend that all schools meet all benchmarks before moving from in-person, hybrid or virtual learning. But to be clear, and we’re going to clarify the existing guidance later today. We continue to recommend to our schools that they work with their local health departments who have more specific local data to inform their decisions. And so we understand that this has been a difficult year and many have grown tired of the mitigation strategies, but now is not the time to let up.
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (06:59)
So please wear a mask when you’re in public, stay physically distanced from people who are not in your household. Consider moving small gatherings outdoors to reduce the transmission, wash your hands frequently, avoid large gatherings, stay home if you’re sick and please get your influenza shot. It’s more important than ever this year. All of this will go a long way in keeping our community safe. Thank you, Governor.
Governor Doug Ducey: (07:27)
Thanks very much, Dr. Christ and thanks for your good work and the good work of the Department of Health Services. Now I want to talk a little bit about the work of our food banks across the state. As we continue to battle this virus, we know that many people, family and businesses have been struggling. We know that people need our help and we want to make sure that no one in Arizona goes hungry due to this crisis.
Governor Doug Ducey: (07:54)
So today we are pleased to announce an investment of more than $1.625 million to expand access to nutritious food for Arizonans and here are the details. St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance will receive $600,000 to enhance its delivery model with door-to-door delivery. Community Food Bank will receive $525,000 to reach an additional 2000 clients. These dollars will help our food banks reach Arizonans across the state from Mojave County to Pima County.
Governor Doug Ducey: (08:34)
Arizona is also doubling up our investment in the Double Up Food Bucks Program with an additional $500,000 investment. With this program for every dollar a SNAP recipient spends on healthy food like fruits and vegetables, they receive an additional dollar to buy more. The Double Up program was championed in our state legislature by senators, Kate Brophy McGee, and Sine Kerr. And it has achieved bipartisan support. And I want to thank both Kate Brophy McGee and Sine Kerr for their leadership on this issue.
Governor Doug Ducey: (09:13)
I also want to thank every staff member and volunteer at St. Mary’s. Every time I come here, I’m so impressed by the commitment and the longevity of the faces and people that are here each time I’m lucky enough to come visit. And to all our food banks across the state, your work to feed Arizonans during the crisis has been outstanding. So, Tom, can I ask you to come up here and maybe brag a little bit or just share what’s happening here at St. Mary’s please?
Tom Kertis: (09:46)
Well thank you, Governor. Here at St. Mary’s, we are grateful for the support that the governor has provided us over the years and particularly since this pandemic started. When we look back in March and April, which seems like a long time ago, all of a sudden we were faced with double the number of families coming through our food bank. And we also at the same time saw people who had never visited a food bank in their life, they were now in need.
Tom Kertis: (10:16)
While that was going on, our volunteers dried up. And because the governor took action and engaged the National Guard, we’re able to continue to meet the need within our community, both packing boxes and distributing the food. Today, the Guard is still helping us to this very day. We’re delivering to a thousand households every day. We’re putting food in their cars. Just at our own locations, not counting the other 400 agencies we have across the state.
Tom Kertis: (10:45)
And last Friday, the Guard helped us to deliver food to a thousand households in Tuba City and Navajo County, and then in the Navajo Nation. And it’s this leadership that allowed us to get this done. At the Navajo nation, it was four-
Tom Kertis: (11:03)
… get this done. And at the Navajo Nation, it was four semi-trucks worth of food that was delivered of fresh produce, meats, groceries, everything that a household would need. So I want to take a moment and thank the governor. Thank you, Governor Ducey, and thank you Major General McGuire. Today, the governor has announced the funding that will allow us to reach people that are home bound. And these people are in the most dire situation. Many of them have complications that prevent them from going out. And although we have food to provide to them, they can’t get there. So this is going to allow us to reach more than 2000 people in our community, many of them seniors, but home bound who are in the direst situation. And again, I want to thank you, Governor, for that leadership.
Governor Doug Ducey: (11:57)
Thank you [inaudible 00:00:58].
Tom Kertis: (12:00)
I want to take a moment and just do a special thank you to all of our donors across Arizona. It was because of your funding and support for us during this critical time, that as this pandemic began to grow, and the need outpaced organizations, we had the resources to get out and help the community. And so we’re eternally grateful to our volunteers, our donors that have helped us put us in this type of a position. You have allowed us to say, “Yes,” to every person who came to St. Mary’s Food Bank. And the final thing I’d like to leave you with is this. The Governor mentioned that 53 years ago, this food bank was founded, and for the last 53 years, and hopefully for 53 plus more, we’ll continue to be open here for the community. We will be here to help. And the last thing for those people in need, it’s okay to ask for help. Thank you.
Governor Doug Ducey: (13:04)
Thanks Tom. And I want to reiterate what Tom said where, St. Mary’s of course, not only being the first food bank, is something Arizona’s very proud of. It’s going to remain open, and it is certainly okay to ask for help. There’s going to be food here. And the food boxes have never been packed with more nutritious food, as well. Thanks to some help from the Federal Government. And something else that Tom said is that what’s happened here wouldn’t have been possible, of course, with the consistent volunteers that he has, but also with the help of the National Guard. And the women and men of the National Guard have been invaluable. They’re invaluable every year. They’ve been even more invaluable if that’s possible, these last several months, helping out in every way, under the sun. From stocking shelves to filling trucks, to working on social unrest, and then a variety of ways as well at our food banks. General McGuire is here to give you the latest on those efforts. General, McGuire
Speaker 1: (14:15)
Thank you, Governor Ducey. Good afternoon. Thanks Tom, for having me over and Dr. Chris. Great to see you again. To all my fellow Arizonians I just want to talk to you a little bit about what the Guard has done. If you remember back in the last week of March, we had a press conference here. There was a lot of discussion about how the Guard would integrate. And at that time, Governor Ducey had authorized activation of the National Guard under the emergency support function 11, which was about food and natural resources, and food chain security. And in the military, we have a motto, “First in, last out.” And the first mission that we were into was this mission. And this will be the last mission we’re out of. Many of my colleagues in the media have heard me discuss, that when we formed this task force ,at the height of the task force, we had 1,080 of your neighbors serving in all counties in this state.
Speaker 1: (15:11)
Right now, we’re down to about 750. And the pre three primary lines of effort that we supported over the last eight months were in logistics, specifically distribution and food bank, and other kind of missions, aviation and medical. Today, we’re down to about 750 guardsmen, still on duty. We’re supporting food bank missions in 11 of the 15 counties. It’s easier to tell you what counties aren’t currently not requesting assistance, Cochise, La Paz, Graham, and Mohave. We’ve been in all four of those counties previously. And at this juncture, we continue to support primarily in the medical and logistics field. Many of you know, a lot of our guardsmen were pulled off in an emergency assistance, compact requests from California. So most of our aviation task force was sent out during the wildfire season. And I just want to say on behalf of not only the Governor, but as the commanding general and all the Arizona citizens, I could not be prouder of how these a thousand plus soldiers and airmen have carried themselves, have executed this mission.
Speaker 1: (16:26)
And for order of magnitude, over 110,000 boxes and families fed just out of this one facility. 46 facilities supported today, rough order of magnitude, somewhere between two and a half, and three and a half million meals distributed by our National Guardsmen in all 15 counties. And I just think it’s a Testament to that model of always ready, always there. I could not be prouder of their service and the things that they’ve done. And we will continue to do that under the governor’s based on requirements going forward. So thank you very much, sir.
Governor Doug Ducey: (17:03)
Thank you general. And, all Arizonians share in that pride. I know it’s customary for many citizens. I see it often when they see a woman or man in uniform to say, “Thank you for your service.” And I extend that gratitude on behalf of all of our citizens. I want to say thank you once again, for all the good work that’s happening here at St. Mary’s, to feed Arizonians in need. As we press on in the fight against COVID-19, we’re going to continue to invest in big ways to help Arizonians who need it most. I’m confident, if we continue working together, we will protect lives, we will save lives, and we are going to emerge stronger as a State. And with that, we’ll open it up for some questions, Patrick.
We’ll start over here with Howie.
Governor Doug Ducey: (17:52)
[inaudible 00:17:55] small groups setting examples. I watched you and the President at a couple of rallies this week. I understand constitutionally, first amendment, but what the hell kind of example is that setting when you’ve got thousands of people like that in Arizona, super spreader events as Doctor Fauci would call them. Aren’t you a little shamed to be setting that example?
Governor Doug Ducey: (18:20)
First, I want to say we’ve been consistent the entire time through the pandemic to protect people’s rights under the constitution. I don’t remember you asking me any question like this, as peaceful protests were happening, undeterred inside our state. And there’s five days left in the election cycle and we’ll continue to protect people’s rights.
It still doesn’t answer my question.
Governor Doug Ducey: (18:45)
Yes, it does. People have rights under the constitution. They’ll be protected in Arizona. That’s the answer.
Even if it’s spreading the virus, the very virus that Dr. Christ said, “Don’t gather in large groups-
Governor Doug Ducey: (18:57)
We’ve been consistent throughout the pandemic. We were outside. And I saw a lot of people wearing masks, as well.
[inaudible 00:19:09] Claudia, from ABC, next.
Yes, this is to Dr. Christ. There’s been a lot of [inaudible 00:19:16] about what’s happening at Haven of Lakeside, the long term care facility. We now know [inaudible 00:19:22] COVID-19, [inaudible 00:19:24] positive cases, in a week time period. Are you prepared to take any action against them?
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (19:33)
So we work with all long-term care facilities on reports of potential outbreaks. So our licensing department partners with public health. So we are aware as cases are being identified, we will dispatch a licensing team up to go do investigations and to do technical assistance with those facilities. If they still need help and additional assistance, we will send our licensing surveyors back up.
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (19:59)
But we also work with our local County health departments, who are the boots on the ground, who can provide the infection control processes as well. So we work very closely with all of our long-term care facilities, especially when there are potential reports of outbreaks.
Well, these are confirmed reports that we were able to confirm because we [inaudible 00:20:19] with Federal Government. So where does that stand? Have you sent your team up there? Or are you investigating? [inaudible 00:20:24].
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (20:24)
So if there have been reports of confirmed cases in a long-term care facility, our licensing surveyors have been out on behalf of CMS.
We’ll go to Ben Giles from KJZZ.
Ben Giles: (20:33)
Governor, this question is for you. You said in your closing remarks, that the State of Arizona is going to invest big to help Arizonians. Will that ever include an increase in the low, low, $240 a month unemployment benefits that Arizona provides to its citizens?
Governor Doug Ducey: (20:52)
So what we’re focused on right now, Ben, of course, is protecting the most vulnerable through the pandemic. The state has been able to serve more than 1.1 million Arizonians in need, this a rose from an unemployment list of 17,000 in February, over $11 billion has been distributed to keep people from falling through the social safety net, and to stretch and strengthen that social safety net. Today, while, and I think everyone here will recall, we did anticipate a rise in cases.
Governor Doug Ducey: (21:31)
We did say we’re going to stay vigilant, and we’re not going to let our guard down. And we’re addressing in July and August, the need for flu shots in the fall. And while we’re seeing a rise in COVID-19 in other parts of the country, the spike has not yet come to Arizona, but we are anticipating it. So we’re going to continue to do that, work with the federal government, if there are additional dollars to come from that standpoint. But what we would encourage people in this economy that we have in-
Governor Doug Ducey: (22:03)
But what we would encourage people, in this economy that we have in Arizona right now, is there are jobs available. So people that were working in February and March before the pandemic, we’re, I think, at 96.9% of our job rate. So we’re coming back strongly.
Speaker 2: (22:23)
If the federal government doesn’t step up, is $240 enough-
Governor Doug Ducey: (22:25)
We have state benefits that will remain in place. And if the federal government is going to step up, if Congress ever wanted to do its job through the last six weeks, we’d be here to work with them.
Speaker 3: (22:36)
Allie from KTAO.
Governor Doug Ducey: (22:38)
Why the change in the school benchmarks? KTAO talked to Superintendent Kathy Hoffman recently, and on a scale of 1 to 10 in concern, she’s at a seven. What are you doing? Are you concerned about the outbreak in cases for kids at schools? And what’s being done to mitigate that?
Governor Doug Ducey: (22:56)
Well, first, I want to say I’ve been concerned the entire time. This is something we’ve taken seriously since the first case in January when we set up the Emergency Operations Center. We had a declaration of a public health emergency in March, and we’ve ramped up as we’ve known more, things that we can, not only to protect the most vulnerable, but try to allow us to live in the safest way possible.
Governor Doug Ducey: (23:23)
And part of that is getting our kids, where we can, back inside a classroom. So anything that’s been done inside our schools has been done in coordination and cooperation with public education leaders and public health officials. And what you’re referring to was actually done at their request.
So if all three levels now have to be in the red, do you think you were sending mixed messages four months ago? And are people… If their message is now to indicate some kind of spread for kids that are at the highest risk, how does that change?
Governor Doug Ducey: (24:00)
So we don’t want to send any mixed messages. We did want to have alignment with the guidance that we have out there for the entire state. And these adjustments are just that. They are guidance. Regardless of what we have out there, we’re going to have teachers with underlying health conditions, and we want them protected and be able to teach virtually.
Governor Doug Ducey: (24:21)
We’ve got some parents that for whatever reasons, personal or otherwise, do not want their child inside a classroom today. That child can learn online. But where it is possible and safe, we want our schools open, and we want our kids inside a classroom with a teacher at the front of the classroom, and them getting the best, safest education possible.
Speaker 3: (24:45)
Michael, from [inaudible 00:02:47].
How was the decision made? Because we’ve heard from other districts like, Fountain Hills, saying that they didn’t know anything about this change. So who actually was consulted when it came to actually changing these guidelines?
Governor Doug Ducey: (24:57)
This was done, like I said, with education leaders, the superintendent of public instruction, and public health officials.
But Governor Chris said earlier, very [inaudible 00:00:25:06], “It’s not the time to relax our guidelines.” When it comes to schools or allowing more people into State Farm Stadium or just the rallies that we’ve seen not socially distanced, how do we square that. It’s not time to relax, but we’re making guidelines easier to deal with and seeing more people out-
Governor Doug Ducey: (25:23)
The attempt is to clarify and to bring as much clarity to a very difficult situation as possible.
Speaker 3: (25:37)
Maria. Maria, next. [Inaudible 00:25:32]. Please.
Hi, Governor. The school facilities board, which is legally required to inspect schools, paused those inspections in March and has not resumed them. More specifically, hasn’t taken any action to inspect school ventilation systems, and [inaudible 00:25:43] have students returning for in person learning, as some other states have, why not, and can Arizonans expect those inspections to resume?
Governor Doug Ducey: (25:54)
Can you repeat … I’m having a tough time hearing you.
Sorry, for school facilities board inspection-
Governor Doug Ducey: (25:59)
They paused those throughout the pandemic, and are not inspecting school ventilation systems. There’s some concerns that those aren’t happening as students are returning to in-person learning. Are those going to resume soon?
Governor Doug Ducey: (26:13)
Well, I want to dig in to the question, so I can get the facts and understand why something would have paused during the pandemic. Of course, our top priority is the safety of our citizens, and our kids inside schools are even above that. So I’ve got to follow back with you, okay, Maria?
Speaker 4: (26:44)
[Dennis Live 00:00:26:34].
I have a question about [inaudible 00:26:37]. I just want to get a medical opinion. Howie was asking about these rallies. Your medical opinion, did rallies with these thousands of people with no masks, close together, outside, put the public health at risk? Did this risk spreading this virus, would you recommend what any of these rallies go and get tested?
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (26:58)
So we would recommend to any time people attend a large gathering, if you think you’ve been exposed to or infected with COVID-19, to go get tested. And we do offer that free testing through ASU. Because it’s outdoors, that does lessen the risk. But what I would recommend to Arizonans is that they are going to attend a large gathering or even go somewhere that has people that they don’t live in their household with, make sure that you are taking those precautions and stay six feet away from others.
But is this a super spreader event? Do you think this puts the public health at risk?
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (27:30)
I think any large group is a potential risk for spreading. I don’t have actual data that shows that cases are linked to those.
Great. And outside of politics, would you recommend that these type of events, would you endorse them, or not?
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (27:45)
I would say it would depend on people’s risk and what risk level they’re willing to take.
So there are situations where you would say it’s okay to gather in large groups like this without masks?
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (27:55)
I would always recommend to wear masks.
So just adding on to Matt’s question, there have been other states like Minnesota that have been directly linked to an increase in COVID cases because of the rallies that the President has had. The President was just here yesterday which drew a large rally of thousands of people standing shoulder to shoulder, not everybody wearing masks. The President was here a week ago, same situation. Does that concern you that we’re already seeing cases increase, that we can see them increase even more?
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (28:28)
I would say that we would encourage people to, if they’ve been in a large group, such as a rally or other large gatherings, that they make sure that they’re monitoring for symptoms. Anytime you come into contact with somebody from a household that doesn’t live in your household, you are putting yourself at risk. And one of the things that we’re finding is that we’re seeing even small gatherings are sufficient for people to be able to spread the disease. You want to make sure you’re looking for symptoms and staying home whenever you can. You are safest at home. And our contact racers will be contacting individuals if they are diagnosed and are confirmed positive with COVID-19, to identify who their potential contacts were.
But are you concerned that numbers could be increasing even more because of these rallies that are being held?
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (29:15)
I think that there’s a lot of different things that are playing a role into the increase of the cases.
Governor Doug Ducey: (29:19)
And let me address a little bit, Dylan, if I may, where Arizona is on its COVID-19 numbers in comparison to other States around the country. I think we all know, I think some of our States are heading into what the press is referring to as the third wave. Our first wave, in terms of Arizona, didn’t really come to those spikes until the last two weeks of June and first two weeks of July. We do see this rising in different parts of the country. Our expectation, in Arizona, has been that cases would continue to go up. But I want you to know, today, Arizona is the 13th lowest cases per 100,000, over the last seven days. We have the 20th lowest positivity rate in the nation today. And we’re 89 cases per 100,000 people, in comparison to 133,000 for a national average. So we are not in that zone that we’re seeing in other places. And like Dr. Crist said, in terms of addressing the common sense steps to avoid getting the virus or spreading the virus, that will be the priority.
Speaker 5: (30:38)
[crosstalk 00:08:38]. But Governor, you kept talking about those R numbers, every time they went down. They’ve been above one for so long, which shows it is spreading here and we are above the national average.
Governor Doug Ducey: (30:49)
So let me address the… There’s a lot of metrics that one looks at as they make decisions around this. And you’re right. The R0 number is above one, and I think it’s above one for 49 out of 50 States. Arizona did one of the best jobs in the nation when our time of challenge did come of driving it beneath one. But as we head into influenza season, it becomes more challenging. And like I said, we’ve anticipated that. We’ve been talking about this for several months. And another number that I think you can look at is COVID-like illness, and Arizona’s still in a very good spot from that standpoint. This is a virus. It’s contagious. What we want to do is slow it, contain it to the best of our ability, and when we have a vaccine, we will be able to come as close as we can to stopping it, although, if it’s like other viruses, it will likely always be out there. It’s just at what level.
Speaker 6: (31:57)
Governor, ABC 13 spent time to get on-camera interviews about the national guard preparing to deploy troops if there civil unrest after the election. This will be your call to send armed troops into streets on the West Coast. So what circumstances are you okay with sending armed troops out into the street.
Governor Doug Ducey: (32:18)
Well, first I want to say, in five days, Americans will complete the political cycle, and we’ll have election day, on November 3rd. It’s our hope and expectation that there will not be civil unrest, that we’ll have a peaceful outcome. And while it may take some time to figure out exactly where all the chips fall, that would be the expectation, but the… Can I finish? But the national guard is always at the ready for potential civil unrest. In the six years that I’ve been governor, it’s only happened once, and I think it lasted about a day, and they rose to the occasion as they always do. But our-
Governor Doug Ducey: (33:03)
… they rose to the occasion as they always do. But our planning and hope would be that we’re not going to have civil unrest, but if we do the National Guard’s at the ready and we won’t hesitate to call them out.
Speaker 7: (33:15)
And Governor, why are you imposing new restrictions before things potentially become worse than the summer, will you step away from President Trump is who is ignoring the science?
Governor Doug Ducey: (33:25)
Well, I want to say that the mitigation that we’ve put out, the plan that we’ve put into effect and remains in effect. And I am proud that Arizona is open, that our economy is open, that our educational institutions are open and our tourist destinations are open. While at the same time, we do have mitigation steps in place that have allowed us to protect lives while protecting livelihoods and we’re going to continue to do that. We make the decisions for Arizona, okay? It’s different here in our State than it is in other States we’ve pointed out and sometimes the national news, I think, can conflate everything together. Arizona is in a position right now where we need to be vigilant and keep our guard up. But the rise in cases, the concern at the hospital level is not happening in the State of Arizona at this time.
Speaker 7: (34:24)
What are the parameters then for shutting down bars, schools and businesses? Are you following parameters?
Governor Doug Ducey: (34:30)
Well, yes, we’ve put a plan out there and the plan remains in place.
Governor, I got one for Dr. Chris and one for you and then you can let us [inaudible 00:34:35] if you want.
Governor Doug Ducey: (34:35)
Go ahead, you go first.
So Dr. Chris we’ve gone from 500 cases a day to 750, more than 1,000 over the last 3 or 4 weeks. We’re going into November, the flu season is going to here. Hospital capacity if there but if we get [inaudible 00:34:59] coming in and we see the growth that you expect, what’s your timeframe for when you think we could be back to where we were in June or July with hospital capacity and [inaudible 00:02:10]?
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (35:11)
So as we look at the next few months, one of the biggest worries that we have is people getting together for the holidays. And so, what we’ve identified is that people don’t estimate the risk when they’re with loved ones or family members in small household gatherings. We do know that the largest number of cases are in our 20 to 44 year olds, mostly in our college aged students. They’re going to be coming home and may not be going back to school during Thanksgiving, and then having holiday celebrations. I hope that I am wrong, but what I would anticipate is to see a spike about 10 to 14 days after Thanksgiving, and then potentially continue to increase over the next four to six weeks.
Do you think there are maybe additional mitigation measures we could do before then to prevent that from happening?
Dr. Cara M. Christ: (36:00)
So we are going to be putting out guidance just like we did for Halloween, how to celebrate a safe Thanksgiving and safe alternatives. We will also be working on mitigation strategies, but we are working with our hospitals as well to ensure that they have what they need. I think the biggest barrier is not the beds, but could be the staffing.
Speaker 8: (36:17)
Governor Doug Ducey: (36:20)
I want to follow on and then answer your question. As you pointed out, we are seeing a rise in cases, we are increasing our testing in the state of Arizona, and we have a rise in positivity. So one of the things that I think in Dr. Chris’ comments, she mentioned about 3,000 testing sites in the State of Arizona. So if you are having a child come home or a kid come home from college, this idea of getting tested is a very good one. So please take advantage of the testing and the turnaround time in Arizona today is not what you’re reading in some other places around the country that for whatever reason it still takes four or five days. You’ll get it same day or at the most next day or the day after and that’s been very good. So I want people to please take advantage of that.
Speaker 8: (37:16)
One more. Last question.
All right so, I wanted to follow up on a topic that was brought up earlier which was the unannounced change in the metrics for schools. 1.1 million Arizona students, they all have parents, they all have families who have looked to your administration for guidance on this and trusted you and then to quietly unannounce.
Governor Doug Ducey: (37:38)
Bob, that’s just not true, that’s just not true.
It was not put out and it was changed but- …
Governor Doug Ducey: (37:45)
It was done in court.
[crosstalk 00:37:48] and that’s the only way that the people learned about it. Is that the type of transparency that you believe is [crosstalk 00:37:55] pandemic?
Governor Doug Ducey: (37:56)
We’re going to be fully transparent during the entire pandemic and you’re mischaracterizing this Bob, these are guidelines, and there’s always been flexibility for our parents, for our students and for our teachers. And these guidelines were adjusted at the request of public education leaders in coordination with public health officials and that’s how we’ll continue to do that and we will be completely transparent.
[crosstalk 00:38:23] Governor. When the metrics were announced originally, they were announced publicly at one of these press news events. When this major change occurred, it was not announced and the public didn’t learn about it expect for [inaudible 00:38:38] who watched it.
Governor Doug Ducey: (38:42)
I think the way you’re characterizing it is to try to position it that way. I did answer the question. It was done at the request of public education leaders and in coordination with public health officials. These have always been guidelines along the way. And I think if you want to see the different ways that they’re being implemented with local leaders and parents, making the decisions that are best in the situation for the County or the neighborhood or their own family situation, you can look to Arizona as a model example.
But Governor, the question again, why was it just changed …
Governor Doug Ducey: (39:20)
I’ve answered the question now several times, you may not like the answer, but that’s the fact.
Speaker 9: (39:25)
But Governor …
Governor Doug Ducey: (39:25)
That’s the fact. So I’m going to close.
Speaker 9: (39:29)
[crosstalk 00:39:29] the Arizona School Board Association says they were not informed. They represent every school board in the State, they where not inform their executives say this was done to put pressure on them.
Governor Doug Ducey: (39:42)
The pressure should be to do the right thing. The pressure should be to follow public health and to protect our kids and our teachers and make sure that our students get the best possible education. This is something that was done and I hate to have repeaters disease, but you guys keep framing this in a different way, it was done with public education officials and with public health officials and it is transparent, and it’s on the website. I want to close by saying thank you to Arizonians for weathering the storm to date. We know that there is a storm ahead of us, yet it’s not here. But those simple guidelines of wearing a mask, washing our hands, being socially distanced and using common sense have served us very well to date. I’d ask that you continue to do that.
Governor Doug Ducey: (40:39)
And again, I’m just going to listen to the doctors and the officials as to what we’re doing in Arizona. But if you look back and if past is any education for what’s in front of us, our easiest time, if there’s been an easy time, was really in the March, April, May timeframe when our weather was so beautiful and we could spend so much time outside. Now, Dr. Chris says we’re safer at home and she’s right, but if we’re not at home, if you can be outside in any gathering and taking advantage of the much milder climate, you’re safer there, that may help us to slow the spread. Of course, as she said, please, if you can, get your flu shot and use the common sense you’ve been using so well so far. Thanks everybody and we’ll see you very soon.