Apr 7, 2020
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 7
Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona held a press conference on coronavirus today. Read the full transcript of his briefing & updates here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Hold on. 30 seconds out. You know the usual drill, We’ll have the governor, along with Cara Christ, director of [inaudible 00:00:11] and Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona. Then we’ll open it up to questions. I see we have fewer people in the room, so we’ll try and take as many on the floor as we can and appreciate everyone’s cooperation. I do ask again, we try and limit it into one question and if you absolutely must have follow up. I think we show that we’re willing to come back around but I think it makes it for a better flow and obviously-
Governor Doug Ducey: (00:35)
Except for the fact we haven’t heard from him since Thursday, [crosstalk 00:00:38] so First conferences.
Speaker 1: (00:42)
I don’t think anyone wants to be here for 90 minutes. That was the case last time. We’ll just say. [crosstalk 00:01:02]
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:26)
Good afternoon everyone. I want to thank you for joining us today. We have a number of things to update you on this afternoon. The fight against Covid 19 remains our top priority in state government all day every day, 24 seven. First and foremost, this is a public health crisis. We wake up every day listening and learning from the health experts, working to slow the spread and taking necessary actions. This has been a really tough month in the state of Arizona. My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by this virus. If people do not have this virus, we don’t want you to contract it and you can avoid it by following the guidance. For people who have contracted the virus. You’re top of mind. We want to make sure you have all the care, comfort and information that you need to get through this and recover. Additionally, we know this is having a big impact on people’s livelihoods, so there are a number of steps we are taking to stretch and strengthen our social safety net to protect our people and to protect our economy and our future economy.
Governor Doug Ducey: (02:46)
And all of this we’re going to continue to use our heads and we’re going to continue to use our hearts. We know that every decision that we make impacts every person in the state of Arizona, our friends, neighbors, and loved ones. First an update on the actions and developments of the last several days. Over the weekend. President Trump approved Arizona’s request for presidential major disaster declaration.
Governor Doug Ducey: (03:45)
… gowns and gloves remains a top focus of ours and we are making progress on this front. On Saturday we announced an agreement with Honeywell. They’ve committed to producing more than 6 million N95 masks over the next 12 months. For Arizonan’s on the front lines. On the economic front, our small businesses need more help to weather this storm. So yesterday I signed an executive order putting a stop to evictions of small businesses and nonprofits facing hardship due to Covid 19. Many landlords are already working with their tenants on a path forward and this order is an added measure of support for small businesses and nonprofits who serve Arizona so very well. Now to our latest actions. When it comes to getting the essential food and supplies Arizonan’s need, we’re focused on keeping our supply chain strong.
Governor Doug Ducey: (04:49)
So today I’ve directed the Arizona department of transportation to issue new guidance, allowing commercial trucks with heavier loads to operate without overweight permits. These new rules will ensure that Arizona’s grocery stores, pharmacies, and medical providers remain fully supplied. Next, jobs and helping those most in need as part of Arizona’s Covid 19 relief package. Today we announced $2 million to Goodwill. Their operations have obviously been impacted by Covid 19 and there are a lot of people in need right now. This funding will help put 400 Arizonan’s back to essential work while expanding support to those in need.
Governor Doug Ducey: (05:44)
We also know that obtaining unemployment benefits is something many Arizonan’s need right now. Our team at the department of economic security is working around the clock to update our systems, handle historic levels of intake and pull down federal dollars fast so we can get checks out the door and into people’s pockets or bank accounts. In our correctional system, we continue to screen the health of correction officers prior to entrance into a corrections facility and in person visitations remained suspended in total 49 inmates have been tested for Covid 19. 42 of those tasks have been returned as negative seven Covid 19 tests are pending results and we’ll keep you updated. The state has obtained cloth masks for every correction officer in the state. This will protect them and our inmates while preserving PPE for correction officers and the event of a Covid 19 spread in our prisons. Since my declaration of public health emergency on March 11th I have issued 15 executive orders to tackle this crisis.
Governor Doug Ducey: (07:07)
Today I’m issuing four more. First, protecting our elderly and most vulnerable. The centers for Medicare and Medicaid services recently put out new guidance to keep elderly adults safe, including conducting symptom checks of anyone entering a facility and equipping staff with PPE to the greatest extent possible. My executive order insures Arizona nursing homes and longterm care facilities are adhering to these guidelines. The order also requires these facilities to provide an electronic visual form of communication like FaceTime or Skype to allow family members to have access to their loved ones. Also being issued today, an executive order to amplify reporting from our medical providers. We want detailed information about Covid 19 patients including how many are in ICU beds. Next, preventing further community spread from other States or regions with widespread Covid 19. The CDC recently issued travel advisories for any one coming from New York Tri-state area.
Governor Doug Ducey: (08:33)
My third executive order today requires anyone flying into Arizona from Connecticut, New Jersey or New York to self quarantine for 14 days and our department of health services will be working with airports to make sure travelers are made aware of these requirements upon arrival.
Governor Doug Ducey: (08:58)
And finally more help for our small businesses and local restaurants. Many restaurants have unused commodities, food and otherwise that could be sold to generate more revenue to pay the bills and help with payroll. My first executive order today provides flexibility on packaging and labeling rules to give restaurants the ability to sell additional goods to the public and please patronize your local restaurants, get takeout or delivery and be as generous as possible in tipping your service workers. Once again, Arizona’s grateful for every individual and organization that is working, partnering, and sacrificing to help others during this time. What I mentioned here today only touches on the surface is Dr. Anthony Fauci, with the NIH, alluded to over the weekend. The social distancing measures we have implemented are making an impact. We need everyone to keep it up and I want to thank everyone for their cooperation and responsible behavior. Next I want to hand it over to dr Cara Christ for a public health update, doctor.
Dr. Cara Christ: (10:20)
Thank you governor and good afternoon everyone. Today I’d like to provide you with an update on the latest information about our cases, testing, preparedness planning, and the latest executive orders issued by governor Ducey. To date in Arizona there have been 2,575 cases of Covid 19 in all 15 counties and tragically 73 Arizonan’s have lost their lives to this disease. With widespread transmission, we know that there have likely been and currently are more cases in our community. Across the country we’re learning more about the disease and how it impacts the health of Americans. While some cases are asymptomatic, we know the devastating risk that it poses to our high risk individuals, primarily our elderly community. Across the country we continue to see a shortage in testing supplies from swabs to testing reagents and Arizona is no exception. To date 33,375 tests have been administered in Arizona.
Dr. Cara Christ: (11:22)
This is a 73% increase from the 19,271 total test administered a week ago today. While we’ve made great progress testing supplies remain in short supply. I’m hoping that as the supply chain strengthens, we will be able to administer tests to get every Arizonan who wants one results. But as of now, we must continue to prioritize those tests to the most high risk Arizonans and those on our front lines, our first and our healthcare providers. Remember that testing will not change your treatment, but it can provide certainty for those first responders and healthcare providers who continue to be in high demand as cases increase. We continue to build capacity within our healthcare system. Working closely with local county health officials and our hospitals and healthcare systems. Today, Arizona has 16,905 hospital beds and 1,532 ICU licensed beds. We will continue to provide updates on our work with the army Corps of engineers and Arizona National Guard to build out our bed capacity.
Dr. Cara Christ: (12:33)
While modeling shows promise in terms of projected cases, we continue to plan for the worst case scenario, ensuring that every Arizonan has access to adequate care in the event of a surging demand and that includes ventilators. Using our new enhanced surveillance data. We’re tracking the health of our healthcare system. Our hospitals are currently using 64% of the state’s ICU capacity, 68% of the medical surgical beds and 25% of the state’s ventilators. That’s 393 ventilators in use as of this morning and that’s primarily treating needs outside of Covid 19 cases, but we have an additional 1,152 ventilators available. We’ve dedicated $10 million from the public health emergency fund to provide funding to hospitals for the purchase of additional ventilators. Given this investment and the additional information that we’ve acquired through our enhanced surveillance, the updated modeling, and regarding our current ventilator capacity. We have amended our request to the health and human services for just 340 ventilators.
Dr. Cara Christ: (13:44)
We’ve taken delivery of the state’s portion of the strategic national stockpile, but we’ve committed an additional 9.1 million dollars towards procuring additional PPE. This includes an agreement with Honeywell to produce over 6 million N95 masks for the state of Arizona over the next 12 months, and thanks to the generosity of the Ben and Catherine Ivy foundation. We’ve directed an additional $5 million towards PPE. Their donation to Arizonatogether.org will allow us to purchase additional high demand resources like masks and gowns that our healthcare providers urgently need.
Dr. Cara Christ: (14:23)
I’m very grateful for governor Ducey’s leadership and prioritization of public health from school closures to prohibiting dine in services at restaurants and the closure of bars, movie theaters and gyms. To the stay home, stay healthy, stay connected order. The governor has acted responsibly at the right times and has used public health as a guide. Two of the governor’s executive orders are directly informed by guidance from the centers for disease control and prevention and move Arizona another step forward in mitigating the spread of Covid 19. The first order is an order protecting vulnerable residents at nursing care institutions, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, medical group homes and residential care facilities including assisted living facilities. We know that our elderly and those with underlying health conditions are the most vulnerable to severe Covid 19. This order ensures that the staff at these facilities come to work healthy and they use PPE appropriately.
Dr. Cara Christ: (15:23)
And that confirmed and potentially suspected cases are cohorted and isolated from other residents and if facilities suspend visitation it requires them to establish electronic visual form of communication in lieu of face to face visits for residents. This is really important for all residents but especially for those at end of life who are receiving hospice care. The second order requires travelers from areas with mass… with cases of Covid 19 including New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to self quarantine for 14 days. We know how quickly this disease spreads, this order will help to mitigate the spread…
Dr. Cara Christ: (16:03)
… The spreads. This order will help to mitigate the spread of this highly contagious disease. And in addition, today, the governor issued an executive order that updates and allows us to collect additional enhanced surveillance data to be reported to the department, including intubations completed per day, the number of COVID-19 positive patients in the hospital, the number of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the number of COVID-19 patients in the emergency department, and the number of COVID-19 patients who are discharged from their facility.
Dr. Cara Christ: (16:36)
This data will allow us to better prepare for our peak in cases and hospital demand, and it will help us identify a better recovery rate for Arizonans infected by this disease. Today marks one week since the governor stay home, stay healthy, stay connected order. It’s very important that we prioritize the physical distance, but engage in social connectedness.
Dr. Cara Christ: (16:58)
While these are difficult times more than ever, it’s important to be kind, compassionate and supportive of our fellow Arizonans. For more information on ways to stay connected and preventative measures you can take to stop the spread of COVID-19, please visit azdhs.gov. The site is updated daily at 9:00 AM with new information on COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Cara Christ: (17:22)
And finally many of you have asked for additional information and statistics about the confirmed cases within Arizona and beginning Sunday, we will update our website to release information on the confirmed cases with enhanced location information and additional new tabs that will contain information regarding deaths, supplies distributed around the state and our enhanced surveillance data. Thank you. I’ll now turn it back over to Governor Ducey.
Governor Doug Ducey: (17:48)
Thank you very much, Dr. Christ. Next, I want to say that we’re very grateful to Tom Betlach for agreeing to come back and lead the Department of Economic Security during the crisis. Director Betlach is a true public servant who loves Arizona and he brings decades of experience in state government, including navigating through the great recession. I’ve asked him here today to give us the latest on his team efforts around unemployment and social services. Director Betlach.
Tom Betlach: (18:21)
Thank you, Governor.
Governor Doug Ducey: (18:22)
Tom Betlach: (18:22)
Thank you, Governor. The Department of Economic Security or DES is responsible for overseeing a number of different programs. Today, we’re going to focus largely on the unemployment insurance program and provide an update in terms of all the efforts the department is taking and working around the clock to deal with an unprecedented demand for these services. So we have some data to give you some comparison in terms of what’s transpired with unemployment insurance in terms of the requests.
Tom Betlach: (18:51)
So if you look back just a little over a month ago, we had roughly 17,000 individuals throughout the state that were on the insurance program and we’d see about 3000 new applications or so within any given week. Fast forward to what’s transpired within the last three weeks and you can see why this is really an unprecedented demand. When you look and see, we have over the last three weeks received requests for new applications of 29,000 three weeks ago. 88,000 new applications two weeks ago. And just as we reported yesterday, 129,000 new applications for last week.
Tom Betlach: (19:34)
In comparison during the great recession, at the height of the great recession in 2010 in terms of the number of individuals that were on the unemployment insurance program, that was about 175,000 individuals as compared to 250,000 individuals that have applied just within the last three weeks. I want to take this opportunity to remind individuals that have applied to make sure you’re going back every week and updating your claim. That is something that’s required. It is not something that we can waive and it’s critically important for individuals to do that. Whether your claim has been processed or whether it’s pending, please go back on a weekly basis and provide the updated information on our online site.
Tom Betlach: (20:17)
Obviously, in response to this unprecedented demand, there’s been several different policy changes that have been done both at the state level and at the federal level. So the Governor issued an executive order, one of the 15 that he mentioned earlier in terms of providing some streamline changes to the unemployment insurance program. So we are now able to waive a one week waiting period. We’re also able to do some other aspects in terms of recognizing the impact of COVID-19 as it relates to individuals no longer being employed and having to come in to the program or looking at job search programs going forward in terms of the near term impact associated with unemployment insurance.
Tom Betlach: (20:58)
In addition to that, at the federal level, there’s been three significant changes. The federal government authorized increased payments of $600 per week on top of the state’s $240. It created a new program for individuals that are independent contractors. These individuals may not be tied specifically to an employer, but it creates this new program to recognize this group of individuals who previously did not have access to unemployment insurance, and it also extended the benefits by an additional 13 weeks. As I mentioned earlier, the Department of Economic Security has been doing a number of things to deal with this unprecedented increase. The first is we’ve increased our staffing to be able to answer the calls. We recognize it is still challenging for individuals to get through. We have seen the demand just surge to at certain points in time, 70 calls per second coming into the state lines. We went from roughly 20 individuals to over 150 individuals. We are looking to add increased staff. We are also working to partner with a private sector organization to come in and expand our call center capacity.
Tom Betlach: (22:08)
We have increased a lot of the information on our website including a number of FAQs to provide information for individuals. We clearly know that there’s an increased demand of individuals coming into the website, not only for the online application, but also in seeking information. Most importantly, we’ve been working tirelessly to make sure that all of the system changes are put in place to recognize the policy adjustments that have been done to make the new payments available for those that are depending upon the unemployment insurance program.
Tom Betlach: (22:39)
So we have completed the update of the systems that are needed to waive the one week reporting requirement. We are in the process this week of making the system changes so that individuals will be able to receive that additional $600, but what does that mean for the real life in terms of what individuals are waiting for? Well, it means that if an individual was one of the 88,000 individuals that applied the week of March 29th and if they went in and updated their weekly claim as I described earlier, the first payment of $240 went out this week.
Tom Betlach: (23:17)
But then that’s going to be followed next week by an additional $240 that individual received the $600 federal increase, the $240 retro for the one week waiting period, which we are now processing in the system. $600 additional for the week of April 5th and $600 for the week of March 29th. So there’s obviously a lot of different scenarios that play out and we recognize that each individual faces a unique set of circumstances. But I wanted to provide that as an example to show the types of impact that all of these policy changes are having and how quickly we are planning on getting these dollars distributed. So thank you, Governor.
Governor Doug Ducey: (24:00)
Thank you very much, Director Betlach. I really appreciate it and I really also am grateful for your continued service to the state of Arizona. Next up is Kimber Lanning. She’s the Executive Director of Local First Arizona. Kimber is an entrepreneur and a business leader and someone that I greatly admire.
Governor Doug Ducey: (24:23)
Her organization has over 3000 small business members statewide. She’s been a champion and a voice for advocating for the needs and the hundreds of thousands of Arizonans that they employ. She’s here to talk a bit about those efforts. Kimber, will you come up please?
Kimber Lanning: (24:46)
Thank you, Governor. So we’re seeing firsthand in times of crisis that the local businesses that are deeply rooted in their communities continue to show up to provide solutions for their state from SanTan Brewing distilling 16,000 gallons of draft beer, they could no longer sell into 400 gallons of medical grade hand sanitizer to local furniture companies such as Urban Plough making intubation boxes for healthcare workers across the US.
Kimber Lanning: (25:16)
Local banks are also providing, improving once again that their resources and their presence in our community is invaluable. It’s been exactly three weeks since I last joined the governor to announce that Arizona was now eligible for the economic injury disaster loans and we’ve been able to land some significant wins since then. I want to thank Governor Ducey and his entire team for always listening and turning their ears to small businesses first.
Kimber Lanning: (25:45)
Just yesterday with the eviction protection, rent is almost always the largest expense for a small business owner and we know that with the protection in place when this is all over small business are going to be leading the Arizona economy again day by day and hire by hire. Recognition is due also to chefs Danielle Leoni of the Breadfruit and chef Silvana of Barrio Cafe and Stephanie Vazquez of Fair Trade Cafe for organizing thousands of restaurant tours across the state.
Kimber Lanning: (26:18)
While we’ve been reading and hearing a lot about the great businesses who are stepping up to help, we’re not hearing enough about those who have already shutdown or who will need to make that decision very soon. And this is why we at Local First Arizona launched the small business relief fund to offer mini grants, not loans. Mini grants to Arizona small businesses that employ up to three people. They’re often family-owned and they rely on business income to put food on their family’s table.
Kimber Lanning: (26:47)
If you have the means, we urge you to contribute to this fund. We’ve been able to raise $350,000 so far and we’re excited about the partnerships we’ve been able to form with other leaders across the state to distribute these very critical funds into the most remote regions of Arizona. For example, Want Water. It’s a husband and wife team in Parks, Arizona, distributing water to remote rural households to OxyCheq down in Tucson distributing critical oxygen in homes where residents have medical challenges.
Kimber Lanning: (27:21)
We’re hearing from businesses that you know and work with every day. Beauticians and barbers, cafes and coffee shop owners, event and wedding planners, handymen and electricians, artists, musicians and their A/V and technical support. Small retail shop owners, food truck operators and catering companies, physical therapists, fitness trainers, small auto mechanics, yogurt shops, [foreign language 00:00:27:47] bakeries and in-home childcare providers, and I’m just scratching the surface.
Kimber Lanning: (27:53)
These are people you know, they’re your family members, they’re your neighbors and they’re in crisis. These are the small business men and women who make up the economy. They make the economy run and most of them right now are still in limbo. Federal help won’t be kicking in for another two to three weeks and we’re already seeing pain points with the process and some discouragement from small business owners.
Kimber Lanning: (28:16)
As a result, we are offering one on one counseling for our business members across the state. You can contact us at localfirstaz.com to schedule a time to talk with our team to see if we can help you navigate the problems that you’re having. I also want to announce that community banks once again are stepping up while our national banks such as Wells Fargo have closed the application process and Chase Bank has only interest forms available.
Kimber Lanning: (28:45)
So I encourage you to reach out to your banker and continue to ask our big banks to step up for small businesses in Arizona the way the local community banks have. Horizon Bank as an example has announced that they’re accepting new accounts and willing to work with you if you have not had an account with them in the past.
Kimber Lanning: (29:05)
So I’ll leave you with this. Buy local whenever and however you can. Bank local and remember who circulates money back into your home state. We’ve been leading this effort since 2003 and we can’t find a more perfect example of the consequences of not keeping dollars in your home state than right now.
Kimber Lanning: (29:25)
To learn more about moving your money to an Arizona community bank or to learn more about how you can help support a small family-owned business, I would encourage you to visit localfirstaz.com and follow us on social media. Thank you very much.
Governor Doug Ducey: (29:40)
Thanks so much, Kimber and thanks for the good work of Local First. I know we both have a very special place in our heart for the small business entrepreneur and the Arizonan who lives paycheck to paycheck, so I encourage people to go to arizonatogether.org to use the resources that Local First Arizona is providing so that we can be helpful in getting you through this crisis.
Governor Doug Ducey: (30:06)
I want to again say thank you to Dr. Christ, Director Betlach and their teams for the hard work that they are doing every day and working harder than they ever have in their life. To every Arizonan, I want to close by saying that I know this has not been easy. Every aspect of our lives has been changed because of COVID-19, and we anticipate that the weeks ahead will continue to be a continual challenge and task both personally and collectively as a state, but I also know that the people of Arizona are smart, hardworking and resilient, and I know that they know what it means to persevere and persist.
Governor Doug Ducey: (30:50)
I ask everyone to continue to follow the enhanced physical distancing requirements and guidelines we’ve put together. They are making a difference for the state of Arizona. These are measures that are recommended by public health and they can continue to make all the difference for our state. I’m confident that we’re going to get through this. I’m certain that when we do get through it, we’ll be stronger than we ever have been before. And with that, let’s open it up for some questions.
Speaker 3: (31:23)
Hi Dr, Christ, I actually have a question for you. Come on down as they say. I have placed several records requests and so have my colleagues for information on your model. And you keep talking about your modeling, why can’t you give us information the way governors of other States have of how many cases of COVID-19 do you expect? How many deaths you expect? Why are we hiding that information?
Dr. Cara Christ: (31:47)
So the information that we have is really scratch paper. We’re working with the universities to develop the actual modeling, but it changes every single day. So initially, it was math that we were doing, looking at when we didn’t have a lot of data. It was one to two …
Dr. Cara Christ: (32:03)
… doing looking at when we didn’t have a lot of data. It was one to 2% of the population projected to be infected. We based then that 6% of that population off of Wuhan would need hospitalization or have severe. That put us between about 48 and 8,400 individuals. The data has gotten much better, but we continue to watch additional data and the modeling and we use many different sources.
Dr. Cara Christ: (32:30)
So there’s not just one source that we’re looking at, but the 13,000 cases, or the 13,000 additional hospital beds and the 1,500 that we’re trying to put together into a document that we can release.
How many people … I realize this is scratch paper, you’re sitting at a restaurant. You’re not sitting in a restaurant. We’ve seen estimates from the federal government that up to 250,000 people will die nationally. What’s your best guess for Arizona?
Dr. Cara Christ: (33:05)
We are trying to keep the deaths down so I am not going to estimate a guess on how many people could eventually die.
[inaudible 00:33:15] Slightly different. I know these guys got more broad questions. But you said something at the end of your presentation that struck me as it related to enhanced location, enhanced mapping of COVID-19. Can you explain that? Is that a response in a way to lawsuit [inaudible 00:33:34] filed to try to get more information about perpetual hotspots [inaudible 00:33:40]
Dr. Cara Christ: (33:45)
We always try to release as much data as we can. In this case, we are looking to develop it either to the PCA, the primary care area level, which is something that we use in public health. There are statistically significant areas of the population or zip code. We’re looking at what’s going to give us better data that can be compared with other things, but that will be released on Sunday. But it is not in response to the lawsuit.
[inaudible 00:34:10] the judge down there required the health director to give more specific location information as it relates to COVID cases. Are you looking at maybe that in 15 counties, kind of what was decided there? 15 counties?
Dr. Cara Christ: (34:32)
We will be working with our local health departments. That was the specific court order that applied to Yuma County requiring or allowing them to give information that normally we’re not allowed to give under state law. So we’re reviewing that to see if that’s a potential for the rest of the state.
Let’s go back to the modeling and the numbers you presented to us over the last several weeks. So there’s a story today that the state does not need 5,000 ventilators. We’re okay with the 540 we have. You said it’s because there aren’t enough in the national stockpile. So regarding that, is it because there aren’t enough in the national stockpile? Or because, as the evidence appears to suggest, we don’t need them?
Dr. Cara Christ: (35:22)
It’s a combination of both [inaudible 00:35:24] so initially when we put in that request, that was before we knew the number of ventilators in the state. We knew what the use of those ventilators was and before we had better modeling. Then we watched New York put in a request for 30,000 and get 400 ventilators. So as we’ve been looking, and then our modeling got better with our worst case scenario when we use the data of needing an additional 1500 ICU beds, which is different than some of the models that you see on the web as well. But with the 1500, when we saw that we had 1500 ventilators in Arizona in total, and 400 of them are used on a regular basis, that gave us 1100 ventilators of that 1500 we would need to get. So we need to come up with an additional 400 to meet our worst case modeling scenario.
[inaudible 00:36:18] So two weeks ago you told us we need double existing 16,000 beds, double the existing, what was it? 3,000 and 1,500 ICUs. The numbers you’re giving us today say nothing’s changed. The state has not moved closer to achieving that worst case scenario pool. That’s going to tell us that we’re not going to reach this worst case scenario.
Dr. Cara Christ: (36:43)
So I don’t think we’ve actually said that. So what I said was that I needed 16 or I needed 13,000 additional hospital beds. Since then, we’ve gotten the enhanced surveillance which has told us how many beds and how many patients, and what the capacity is. So if we use a 70% capacity of the licensed health care beds, that leaves a remainder of the beds that can still be used. We’re still looking at alternative care sites and we’re still working with the hospitals to identify additional beds, but we are still aiming for that additional 13,000 beds.
[inaudible 00:37:17] statement earlier. Can you just in plain English, [inaudible 00:37:23] tell us what is that worst case scenario? How many deaths are we going to have? How many cases are we looking at? The governor [crosstalk 00:37:32].
Governor Doug Ducey: (37:30)
Can I address this?
Dr. Cara Christ: (37:30)
Governor Doug Ducey: (37:39)
I think what Dr Chris is referring to is that the numbers are changing as we have more data and information. We can fill in the blanks. So I know that you all want a prediction from my myself or Dr. Chris. What we’re working on every day is to reduce the number of Arizonans that can contract COVID-19. The fewer people that contract it, the fewer deaths that we’ll be experiencing. That’s what we’re focused on all day, every day and some of the questions around ventilators for instance. You may have seen that yesterday, I think it was Governor Gavin Newsome in California returned 5,000 ventilators to the strategic national supply. Well, from where I sit, that’s good news. You may have seen that Governor Kate Brown of Oregon sent 150 ventilators to Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York. From where we sit in Arizona, that’s good news. Now we are in acquisition mode because we want to plan for a worst case scenario.
Governor Doug Ducey: (38:54)
That’s the responsible thing to do during a pandemic, but you can see some of these signs. They’re not going to give us a sense of overconfidence or too much comfort, but if we’re able to dramatically reduce the amount of contractions and the amount of deaths, those are good things as well.
But you’ve obviously got to be getting information with numbers that you said last week at the town hall. When you know something, so Arizona knows. So why won’t you give us that information?
Governor Doug Ducey: (39:24)
You know everything I know. A lot of times we’re referring to some of the national and international modeling that’s going on. I think you heard Bill Gates talk this weekend about the model available from the University of Washington. That’s available to everyone on the internet.
So we’re just going to the board real quick. Then we’ll come back to questions in the room. First question will be from [inaudible 00:39:58]
[inaudible 00:39:58] On March 23rd, you issued an order listing essential services had to remain open. Your office posted a new release on your website that specifically included barbershops and hair salons. Last Thursday in the town hall, you said they weren’t included. They later removed those businesses and said they had to close. [inaudible 00:40:19] was Thursday and now you’ve revised that news release that was on your website to remove that without a note. How are those following honesty and transparency vow that you took and told the Arizona people, you’d be straight with them?
Governor Doug Ducey: (40:35)
We’re going to continue to be straight with the Arizona people. First, let’s start with what the objective is here. The objective is to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s already here. It’s in every state in the United States and it’s every county in Arizona. So if we can slow the spread of COVID-19, we can reduce the amount of people that are affected by the virus. We can reduce the amount of deaths that happen in the state of Arizona. So we started with the biggest things first. We shut down schools, we shut down restaurants, we shut down nightclubs and bars and health clubs and gymnasiums and movie theaters. These are areas where large gatherings are happening. Spring training was canceled. Opening day never happened. There is no professional sports, college sports, high school sports or youth sports that are happening right now. These are millions and millions of people that have been affected where essentially there are no large gatherings happening in Arizona. We wanted to bring further clarity to the order on places where physical distancing and CDC guidelines of distancing couldn’t take place. That’s where the enhanced guidance came from. That may happen over the course of time. We may see there were four more executive orders today on top of 15 before that. We’re going to continue to adjust, escalate and elevate as necessary.
Next is going to be Peter Seymour with KTR. … Peter, you there? We’ll take one more from the board. [inaudible 00:42:36] from NBC news.
Hi there Governor and Dr. Chris. Thank you guys. I’m hoping you can help me with the math here when we’re talking about the 13,000 extra beds that we’re looking for. I know you’re accounting for 340 beds once the lease is signed with St Luke’s. I guess number one question would be, when is that lease expected to be signed with St Luke’s? Then when you were looking, the Army Corps of engineers, to my understanding, has made their assessments on these other locations. I believe it is now in the years department of health services discretion now on how to move forward. Can you help me understand when you guys plan to move forward? I understand it’ll take a couple weeks to construct the sites. In order to get to that 13,000, how that math works out? I appreciate it.
Governor Doug Ducey: (43:24)
So first, I want to say because Arizona has not been hit first or hit hardest like we’re seeing in places like New York and Seattle, we’ve been able to prepare and plan ahead, get a real sense of the inventory that we have. Not only in terms of hospital beds, but the options that we would have in Arizona. I want to say I’m grateful to the Army Corps of engineers for parachuting into the state. Currently we’re looking at one additional field hospital in Southern Arizona and potentially if needed, if necessary, to field hospitals in central Arizona or Maricopa County. I’m going to let Dr Chris take you through the survey of the beds.
Dr. Cara Christ: (44:16)
We are looking at adding additional sites in each of those three regions and looking at scalable options, so that we can scale up to meet those needs if we need. We are looking at hopefully signing the lease with St Luke’s today or tomorrow. So that should be finalized relatively soon and then they will be able to begin to build. For the other ones, we have initiated scope of work requests. One is up in Flagstaff that would give us a total of 1,250 beds if we go to the maximum capacity. We have one down in Tucson that would give us 800 to a thousand beds. Then we’re looking at several sites that could be scalable to … one of the sites I believe can be scaled up to 2000 and then the other sites are about 800 to a thousand each. So we continue to look in Maricopa County, but we are starting on the scope of work.
Go to Nicole.
Dr Chris, for you. Thank you. The state is not tracking cases and healthcare workers. Why are we not? Don’t we need to track data to see if there’s a problem?
Dr. Cara Christ: (45:26)
So we do follow up with cases if they were healthcare workers. Those are done at the local county health departments. So things that are in congregate care settings, like a nursing care facility or a healthcare worker, those would be investigated and contact investigated by the local health departments.
Shouldn’t the state be giving out that data? Maricopa County is about to start giving out longterm care facilities. Is the state going to? Can we count the number of healthcare workers in Arizona that have tested positive?
Dr. Cara Christ: (45:58)
So I will go back and round with my team. I know that as part of that enhanced data that they will be putting up, we’ll continually add additional data.
Including health care workers?
Dr. Cara Christ: (46:07)
I don’t know if that part is included.
Then follow up. We know that there’s not enough PPE for healthcare workers. Are our healthcare workers safe inside of hospitals right now? Because they don’t feel safe.
Dr. Cara Christ: (46:19)
So the entire world is facing a PPE shortage. So this is something that is being experienced by all healthcare workers. We are trying to get additional PPE into the state by developing the contracts and the partnerships with the private sector.
Are they safe?
Dr. Cara Christ: (46:40)
We have issued guidance so that there is conservation of PPE and we are prioritizing that.
Probably a question for Dr. Chris. I’m just trying to picture what communities could look forward to, what’s the next step? I know you mentioned a couple weeks ago as well. [inaudible 00:47:05] being mid April, end of May. Has that changed? What’s your forecast?
Dr. Cara Christ: (47:06)
We’re forecasting that the peak of cases or the peak will happen mid to end of April.
That’s still the same.
Dr. Cara Christ: (47:14)
That is still the same. Yes.
So [inaudible 00:47:19] has been tracking fevers across the United States. They’ve seen an decline in other states, but they’re starting to see a rise. They say that Arizona might be the hotspot along with other western states with fevers. Are you guys prepared for this? If there are more number of cases coming in with people going in with fevers? Isn’t that one symptom that you are allowed to have a test?
Dr. Cara Christ: (47:48)
Yes. So that would be one of those things that we would. A lot of things cause fevers. So we would leave that to our providers to determine if it was due to something else or not. But then we are working with our hospitals to prioritize hospitalized patients-
Dr. Cara Christ: (48:03)
And we are working with our hospitals to prioritize hospitalized patients for testing.
Speaker 6: (48:07)
And I know we’ve been talking about cases here in Arizona and the deaths. I think a lot of people want to know how many have recovered. Do you have that number?
Dr. Cara Christ: (48:14)
We do not have the number of recovered, just because if they’re not being followed up, and it’s a commercial lab being reported, we don’t have the outcomes of that. What we will do at the end is continue to match against death data and if they don’t show up in our death data, they could be considered recovered. But there’s not a great way to look at what a definition of recovered is.
Speaker 6: (48:40)
And I have a question for Governor Ducey. Is the state tracking or monitoring social distancing and how are we doing in general?
Governor Doug Ducey: (48:46)
Well, I want to say thank you to the citizens of Arizona. It was a week ago today that we put out the stay at home order. What we said was stay home, stay healthy, and stay connected. By and large, people are doing very well on this, and there has been increased social distancing. You can see it in the amount of folks that are just not out, not gathering in large groups. And we’re going to continue to be persistent on that until we’re through this. And again, the objective here was not to shut down everything in the economy, shut down the things that were necessary to avoid large groups gathering. It certainly wasn’t to shut down the great outdoors. It was to slow the spread. So the overwhelming majority of Arizonans are thoughtful and bring common sense and think for themselves. Please continue the physical distancing, and stay connected with your loved ones. Use technology. That might be the single only good use for social media right now.
Speaker 7: (50:00)
Let me ask two questions about executive order, one you’re issued and one you may be in the future. The one you issued today about New Yorkers, my people, if you will. So people come off the plane, oh, that plane came in from LaGuardia. You should sequester yourself. I don’t think I understand the enforcement other than giving a little card and saying, “Stay home.” How do you enforce such a self-quarantine order?
Governor Doug Ducey: (50:28)
I want to address this, as well. You had similar questions, if I recall, around the stay at home order.
Speaker 7: (50:36)
Governor Doug Ducey: (50:36)
And because I think Arizonans are smart people and will do the right thing, that’s how I communicated it, was as a stay at home order versus a shelter in place. Or talked about the teeth and the law enforcement that was involved because I think there’s enough out there to cause fear and anxiety in people. I want to get people the facts and reduce any unnecessary fear and anxiety. And I think when you say shelter in place, that’s what people hear during a nuclear attack or when there’s an active shooter. The fact of the matter is there are teeth to the stay at home order. It’s a class one misdemeanor. And law enforcement, first and foremost, is going to ask you to disperse if you’re gathering in groups larger than 10. And then if you don’t, they can cite you. And it’s a $2,500 fine, and up to six months in jail.
Governor Doug Ducey: (51:37)
And the same is possible for those that don’t quarantine in place. So that’s what we’re going to do. And those are for the people that are arriving from the Tri-state area on the East Coast where there’s been a travel advisory, I want to say, and this is on the day where we had a memorial funeral mass for Commander Carnicle of the Phoenix police department. I think this is an example of the quality of the women and men that we have in law enforcement in Arizona. And this was a commander on the front lines, not behind the desk, dealing with the very real dangers of law enforcement. And I, and all of Arizona, mourns and grieves with the Carnicle family today. But the police have better things to do than be breaking up groups of 10, so just follow the stay at home order, and follow the order when you land at Sky Harbor.
Speaker 7: (52:38)
Okay. Let me ask another part of the question. You’ve issued now a dozen or so executive orders, everything from evictions to, with this new direct-
Governor Doug Ducey: (52:50)
I’ve issued 19 executive orders.
Speaker 7: (52:52)
So, I’m sorry I don’t have the count. There is an issue out there right now about initiative. You have people who are trying to exercise their constitutional rights put initiative on the ballot. Why don’t you use your powers under Title 26 to say we will allow the use of existing e-qual system to let them exercise their rights?
Governor Doug Ducey: (53:16)
So let me address this. The original emergency declaration from the governor’s office on March 11th was around a public health emergency in the state of Arizona. And that’s what my orders are going to continue to focus on, along with the things that happen with that. What’s going on in our schools and in our economies. I was able to see secretary of state, Katie Hobbs today. She said that she had many registrants in her office yesterday that had all the signatures that they needed. So where there’s a will, there’s a way. You can still use the phone. You can use social media. If people want to get a signature, they’re able to go on a candidate’s or initiative’s webpage, download the form, sign it, and mail it in. I encouraged them to do that.
Speaker 7: (54:11)
Governor, that’s not the case with initiatives. The initiative requires a circulator to witness it, and then sign in front of a notary. You cannot go to a webpage where, let’s say the marijuana thing, to sign it. You are essentially reserving for candidates.
Governor Doug Ducey: (54:27)
These are going to be the extent of the orders today.
Speaker 8: (54:30)
We’re going to go to the board and then we’ll come back here. Next from the board is going to be Jimmy Jenkins from KJZZ.
Jimmy Jenkins: (54:34)
Thank you, Governor Ducey. This is Jimmy Jenkins from KJZZ. Several Arizona correctional officers have tested positive for the coronavirus. I’m wondering, now that Attorney General Barr has directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to release some elderly and sick inmates to mitigate the spread of the virus, could you be open to releasing any of the 6,600 inmates in Arizona prisons who are vulnerable to the coronavirus due to their age and health conditions as identified by the Department of Corrections? And then for Dr. Christ, has the Arizona Department of Health Services inspected any of our state prisons to ensure compliance with the CDC guidelines for mitigating the spread of the coronavirus? And do you plan to? Thank you very much.
Governor Doug Ducey: (55:16)
Thank you, Jimmy. One of our top priorities in terms of stopping and slowing the spread of covid-19 is to do our best, everything possible, to keep this of course out of our retirement homes, and nursing facilities, and our Department of Corrections, our state prisons. So we are testing our correctional officers. If they do have covid-19, they are put on leave so they do not infect inmates. We’re going to continue to ramp up the testing for inmates inside our prisons so that we can do the appropriate action, in terms of removing them from the general population and making certain that they have the proper care and protections around that. Not only are we focused on protecting public health, we’re continuing to focus on protecting public safety, and we’re not going to be releasing any prisoners at this time. Dr. Christ.
Dr. Cara Christ: (56:19)
So we have partnered with the Department of Corrections on developing technical guidance and working with them to implement the CDC guidelines. We do have plans to go back and work with them to make sure that those recommendations were implemented, and if not, how we can assist them with implementing them.
Speaker 9: (56:36)
Can you clarify something on testing? Did you say that testing went up by one week, 73%?
Dr. Cara Christ: (56:42)
It went from 19,000 to 33,000.
Speaker 9: (56:43)
What dates are you looking across [crosstalk 00:08:49]-
Dr. Cara Christ: (56:48)
I believe that would have been last Monday to this Monday.
Speaker 9: (56:52)
I think it’s neck-in-neck, 32,000, 33,000.
Dr. Cara Christ: (56:56)
Oh no, that’s cumulative for all of last week. So that’s where we would have ended last week, but we would have started at where the bar before that is on our website.
Speaker 9: (57:05)
Speaker 8: (57:05)
And then one more from the board and then we’ll come back to a few more from the room. So Jeremy Duda from the AZ Mirror, go ahead. [inaudible 00:57:13] Go ahead, Jeremy.
Jeremy Duda: (57:21)
Thank you, Governor. Jeremy Duda at the Arizona Mirror. Obviously, the federal government has increased substantially, the unemployment benefits that folks are eligible for. But Arizona has, in spite of this, some of the lowest state benefits in the country. Given everything that’s going on, do you believe there is a need to increase that now, or anytime in the near future?
Governor Doug Ducey: (57:39)
Thank you, Jeremy. I think it’s important that people have the facts around what the state is doing. We are increasing our benefits, or making them easier to access. We’ve waived though the one week that anyone has to wait to access these benefits. So I encourage people to go to azdes.gov and apply today so we can get the money in their pocket or bank account as soon as possible. With the state benefits plus the federal benefits, unemployment in Arizona will be at $840 a week per individual. And the state has expanded the benefits that can be collected from 26 weeks, plus an additional 13 weeks, which brings it to a total of 39 weeks. And I think because the viewers that are watching at home can’t always hear… I know they heard your question, Jeremy, because it’s amplified, but there was a question around testing and where we were week to week. And last week at this time, we were at 19,000 tests completed. We’ve had a 73% increase over this week to 33,000 tests completing to date with additional tests happening.
Speaker 8: (58:55)
We’ll do wrapped up in the room. Antonia, did I see you questioning?
Yeah, I was just curious, Governor. What’s your point of view on keeping some hiking trails closed but golf courses open?
Governor Doug Ducey: (59:10)
Our order around stay at home, stay healthy was never intended to shut down the great outdoors. It’s good for you to get outside and get some fresh air where you can socially distance. Take it from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who goes for a run or a power walk outside every single day.
Speaker 8: (59:33)
Last question here, Brent.
Thank you, sir. On [inaudible 00:11:38], I hope you can understand, we’re not looking for prediction. We understand there are ranges here. All we have right now though, is what you told the folks out there, which is the worst case scenario. And it doesn’t look like we’re even close to being ready for the worst case scenario. So can you give us a range, because certainly, you must have a range that you’re looking at, of potential cases and deaths in Arizona over the next four to six weeks?
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:00:05)
We’re doing everything we can to reduce the number of contractions. If we reduce the number of contractions, we will reduce the number of deaths. If people can’t hear the question, it’s this persistent desire for some type of prediction. Can I just say that anybody that tells you exactly what’s going to happen in to the future is guessing. And I’m not guessing. I’m doing everything responsible to make certain that Arizona navigates through this crisis with the least amount of infection and loss possible. I’ll close with a prediction for you though. We’re one day closer to this being behind us. April is going to be a difficult month, and the expectation is that we’re going to have the maximum amount of hospitalizations in May. We’re going to do everything we can between now and then, and you all have been seeing me every day or several times a week, and certainly more than often. We’re going to continue to over-communicate. When I know something, you’ll know something. We’ll be posting it on the website and continue to be transparent.
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:01:21)