Jun 25, 2020
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey COVID-19 Press Conference June 25
Governor of Arizona Doug Ducey held a June 25 press conference on coronavirus in the state. Ducey urged more caution as Arizona cases rise, saying “You are safer at home.” Read his full news briefing speech here with COVID updates.
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Governor Doug Ducey: (00:55)
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for being here. I think as we all have come to realize, COVID-19 has changed our world, and not just in Arizona. A writer who I’m a fan of, he’s an AEI scholar, Nicholas Eberstadt, and Dan Blumenthal, I thought put this best in our recent piece, “The COVID-19 pandemic is the single greatest global peacetime catastrophe that humanity has suffered since the end of the Second World War. Barely months into what promises to be a multiyear disaster, the pandemic has already cost America alone over 100,000 lives, tens of millions of jobs, and trillions of dollars in lost output, income, and wealth. The ultimate toll for the world as a whole from this pandemic, both the direct and indirect consequences, may still lie beyond imagining.”
Governor Doug Ducey: (02:10)
COVID-19 is widespread in Arizona. It’s in all 15 of our counties. It’s growing and it’s growing fast across all age groups and demographics. Anyone can get this virus and anyone can spread this virus. These numbers speak for themselves. 63,030 total COVID-19 cases in Arizona. We are averaging 2,750 cases per day. And we have lost 1,490 Arizonans.
Governor Doug Ducey: (03:03)
Now at the last press conference, I said that our numbers were going in the wrong direction and they continue to go in the wrong direction. The rate of the spread of this virus is unacceptable and it’s time for us to step up our actions and our personal responsibilities regarding this virus.
Governor Doug Ducey: (03:27)
Arizona’s not alone. This is happening across the country and around the world. Some states were hit in March, April, and May. Our time of getting hit is right now, June, July, and August. I don’t necessarily like to put these terms on what’s happening here, but these are common terms that are being used around the country. This is Arizona’s first wave, and this will not be our last wave. We are one of several states that is having a record in terms of daily cases, including California, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas, and South Carolina.
Governor Doug Ducey: (04:26)
Arizona is one of seven states that is hitting a daily record of hospitalizations, including Arkansas, California, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, where we are right now. And what we expect is manageable, but we do need to change direction on these numbers. We’ve learned from states that were hit before us and hit harder than we’ve been hit, but we are getting hit hard right now. We’ve learned from both their successes and things that they may have wanted to do differently. We are going to apply all of that knowledge. And like I said, last week, we’re going to remain vigilant, flexible, and humble as this virus presents new challenges at every turn. Now, this is Arizona’s time of challenge. I don’t want there to be any illusion or sugarcoated expectations. We expect that our numbers will be worse next week and the week following in terms of cases and hospitalizations. Whenever we make some changes, it takes several weeks for those changes to catch up in the numbers affecting real people. So there’s more work to do. We can’t let up. If anything, we need to redouble our efforts. The objective here is that we want to save lives and protect livelihoods. This is not an either-or or choosing one or the other. This is and and both. We will err on the side of caution and we will err on the side of saving lives. But the objective is to save lives and protect livelihoods. And how will we measure our progress? By slowing the virus and by protecting the most vulnerable among us.
Governor Doug Ducey: (06:58)
Now, the best way that you can help do this, and I want to enlist every Arizonan this battle because you personally can make a difference for our state and our nation and most importantly for your neighbor, for your family, for your parents and grandparents, if you will wear a mask, that will make a real difference in slowing the spread of this virus. 75% of our state today has guidance in place, and I want to thank our mayors and our county supervisors, our local leaders and our citizens for their compliance with this. And I want to enlist everyone else to be part of it.
Governor Doug Ducey: (07:50)
There’s no bigger thing you can do in addition to wearing a mask than these three steps. Every Arizonan can do their part, part of returning smarter and stopping the widespread virus in our state is physical distancing. I’m physically distanced from Dr. Christ and General Maguire, so I don’t have a mask on. When I came in, I did. Wearing a mask, being physically distant, that social distance, physical distancing is the same thing. And then of course washing your hands and staying home when sick. I know many young people out there feel invincible, and statistically on some of these worst case scenarios, maybe you have reason to feel that way, but your parents and grandparents are not invincible, and you can make a real difference in slowing the spread of this and the risk. Now, Arizonans had 45 days of a stay-at-home order. Stay home, stay healthy, and stay connected. I want to say again, thank you for the cooperation and partnership. You did much to slow this spread to allow us to prepare in every way for what would be our time of maximum illness and hospitalization. When we reopened the economy, I said that this is a green light to proceed, not a green light to speed, and most Arizonans have been proceeding, but we have had some speeding and we’ve had some speeding in the business community and we need to slow down. So the graphic I’d like to leave you with today is a yellow light to yield, to proceed with caution, to go slower, to look both ways. This virus is everywhere. It’s likely in this room right now, and the actions that you take as a citizen will make a difference in how we care for our most vulnerable and how we handle remaining hospital capacity.
Governor Doug Ducey: (10:28)
So if there’s one takeaway from today’s press conference and the message that I want to share today, it’s that you are safer at home. All Arizonans are safer at home and you can stay healthy at home. Our cases are increasing. Our hospitals are seeing additional stress and they’re likely to hit surge capacity very soon. Now, this is not another executive order to enforce and it’s not about closing businesses. This is about public education and personal responsibility. It’s about asking every Arizonan to act responsibly, to do it for your family, for your friends, for your neighbors, for our frontline healthcare workers, for our parents and grandparents, and for our doctors and nurses and medical workers who are overworked right now. So remember, you’re safer at home. You can stay healthy at home and you can help reduce the risk for the most vulnerable in our society and ease this burden on our hospitals.
Governor Doug Ducey: (11:55)
The crowded social gatherings that we’ve seen must be minimized. We’re not there yet as a state and around this virus. When we reopened the economy, I said go out and get a haircut, get something to eat, and go home. I want to give that same message right now. If you don’t need to go somewhere, if you don’t need to go out, if you can work from home, work from home and stay home because you’re safer at home.
Governor Doug Ducey: (12:37)
And with that, I want to turn it over to Dr. Christ who’s going to talk through the medical guidance on risk profile for decision making on what you decide to do as we slow this spread. Dr. Christ.
Dr. Christ: (12:53)
Thank you, Governor. So as Governor Ducey said, you are safer at home with your household contacts. We like to call them your quarantine pod. But things that you should consider before going out, how many people will you interact with, so that is your highest risk is going to be interacting with other people. And so you want to make sure that if you are in a group of people, you want to be wearing a cloth face covering. Not doing that and getting close to people is going to increase your risk. Engaging with new people that are outside of your normal cohort or your normal group of close contacts, for most people that’s if they do not live with you, that is going to raise your risk because they are going to have different exposures than you are. Some people have the virus and don’t have any symptoms. They don’t feel sick. They are out, and so they can still spread the virus. And so you need to make sure just because somebody doesn’t look sick doesn’t mean they aren’t carrying the virus. You’re also going to want to consider if you do need to go out, is it a place where you can remain six feet away from other people? Will you be outdoors or indoors? And so the closer you are to other people who may be infected, the greater your risk for coming down with COVID-19. If you can keep your distance, especially for those that are at higher risk of illness such as older adults or those that have underlying medical condition, you definitely want to practice physical distancing. And indoor spaces are riskier than being outdoors. Outdoors, there’s more room for you to be able to physically distance and there’s better ventilation, so you want to consider, is it an outdoor venue, is it an indoor venue, and how close will I have to be to other people?
Dr. Christ: (14:51)
And then what is the length of time you will be interacting with people. And so that’s another question you want to ask yourself. We consider in public health a close contact if you are within six feet of somebody for 10 or more minutes. The longer that you interact with somebody in a close space, the higher your risk for coming down with COVID-19, and spending more time with people increases their risk as well. And so you just want to make sure that if you have to leave, that you are taking these into consideration,
Governor Doug Ducey: (15:25)
Thanks so much, Dr. Christ. Additional actions. First, I want to say a thank you to all the millions of citizens who have been responsible actors during this and the entrepreneurs and business owners that have been excellent at what they’re doing, have physical distancing inside their service or place of goods and services. They’re protecting their employees and their customers, but not all have done that, and bad actors need to be held accountable.
Governor Doug Ducey: (16:07)
So new guidance was issued last week. This increased measures that establishments must take to protect their employees and their customers. It also provided local authorities with the ability to take enforcement action when a violation occurs. So on Tuesday, Scottsdale authorities filed charges on an establishment named Riot House and reported additional violations to the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control. And they’re not alone. Yesterday, the Department of Liquor sent a final notice to comply with the following establishments listed below. We will continue to do this. I want to thank local authorities for enforcing the guidelines that are out there. Businesses can enforce these themselves and continue to operate without interruption. If they choose not to, there will be accountability and there will be enforcement, and there will be more for bad actors.
Governor Doug Ducey: (17:22)
Let’s look at what we’re seeing by age group. I’ve spent a lot of time up here behind this microphone talking about the risk to our most vulnerable, those in a certain elderly age category with underlying health conditions, but I want to look at this across the board today in terms of age and demographic. Let’s look at the case growth by age here, and it’s a pie chart. Green represents people that are less than 20 years old, blue is 20 to 44, red is 45 to 54, gray is 55 to 64, and the burnt orange is greater than 65 years old. You can see there’s been a large increase in the 20 to 44 age bracket in terms of case growth. If there was anything good on this chart, it would be that we’re not seeing case growth grow in an exponential way in our greater than 65 age category.
Governor Doug Ducey: (18:37)
But we haven’t done a lot of talking about how contagious this is, how anyone can catch it, and then how in large social gatherings, how quickly it can spread. And I think you can see this year in the blue category for young people age 20 to 44, how quickly the case growth has happened. If you look at the weekly COVID-19 cases by age, same color scheme here, blue represents 20 to 44 year olds, and you see over the course of the last six weeks the overwhelming growth in that age category. And the other thing that I think is important, it doesn’t matter who you are or how old you are. You can catch this. But if you’re out and about and in large social gatherings in multiple places, you have a lot higher chance percentage-wise to catch this.
Governor Doug Ducey: (19:46)
Now, if you look at hospitalizations by age, I said statistically, you’ll read a lot that younger people do recover from this, and when they go to the hospital, more often than not, they do recover, although we know that’s not true for everyone.
Governor Doug Ducey: (20:03)
They do recover. Although we know that’s not true for everyone, but look at 22% of 20 to 44 year olds are inside our hospitals. 41% are the most vulnerable. And I would say to our young people, even though you may not get sick, even though you may not have to go to the hospital, you certainly see on this graph that that is a possibility. But you can spread this disease to your parents or your grandparents or to older Arizonans who are filling up our hospitals. And they are the ones that are in the most danger for the most negative outcomes. All of our citizens, all of our people, all of our young people can be helpful in slowing the spread of this. And that’s what I’m hopeful to do today is to enlist you in doing that by staying home, by wearing a mask, and when you do have to go out by physically distancing.
Governor Doug Ducey: (21:16)
Let’s run through the numbers that I’ve shared with you every week. And I want to show you where we are today. I’m not going to talk much about the gating criteria today because there is no consideration of increasing activity. Arizona is on pause. Let’s look at our symptoms and we know what we’re looking for here. It’s a downward trajectory in both COVID-like illness in blue, influenza-like illness in gold. You could see that we were headed that way for several weeks in a row, but not the last several weeks. This has been an upward trajectory. This is the wrong direction, and it needs to be reversed.
Governor Doug Ducey: (22:03)
Let’s look at our cases. I think everyone knows what we want to see is a downward trajectory, but that’s not what we have here. The last four weeks are increasing cases week over week. This is the wrong direction. This is not the trend we want, and we need to reverse this trend.
Governor Doug Ducey: (22:29)
Let’s talk about tests. The blue mountain represents the amount of testing we’re doing, that is increasing. The gold line at the bottom is the positivity of testing. That’s how many people take the diagnostic test and test positive. You can see that number increasing week over week with the last two weeks being as high as 18.5 and 20. 1. That’s one in every five tests resulting in a new case. So you’re seeing an increase in testing, you’re seeing an increase in cases, you’re seeing an increase in positivity, and that means you’re seeing an increase in the spread of this virus throughout our state. This is the wrong direction, and this is another trend that needs to be reversed.
Governor Doug Ducey: (23:36)
Hospitals. Our goal is to treat all our patients without crisis care. This is where we are on hospital beds. Gray represents availability. We have less of it today. Increasing hospital beds in use and increasing COVID-19 cases. ICU capacity. Less capacity today than in the past. Blue represents hospital beds in use. And you can see in gold increasing COVID-19 use in our intensive care units. Today in Arizona we have more hospital beds in use. It’s give or take a week or two, but we are seeing increasing usage in both our hospital beds and our ICU beds. Ventilators in Arizona. We have availability, but we are seeing an increase in usage, both in our ICU rooms and for COVID-19 patients.
Governor Doug Ducey: (24:57)
In terms of testing, we want to have robust testing in place for our healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing and trace contacts of COVID-19 results. In Arizona, we have been on a testing blitz for the last several months. If you want to get tested, you can go to AZhealth.gov/testingblitz and get in the queue for the thousands of tests that we are going to have available. We’ve tested now over 619,000 Arizonans. Over 463,000 of those tests have been diagnostic. 155,000 plus have been serology. And we’re going to continue to stay focused on testing. We are going to increase testing in Arizona. It gives us more information to make better informed decisions and to contain the spread. Our testing has more than doubled since the stay-at-home order expired. On May 15th we had 154,421 diagnostic tests. Today over 463,000 have been conducted with more to do.
Governor Doug Ducey: (26:16)
Our testing has increased by more than 1100% since April 15th. On that day we had 47,398 tests completed. Today over 463, 000. We need more tests and we need more efficiency around the test. No one should have to wait hours and hours for a test to be conducted. We also want to see quicker results communicated back to the Arizonan after the test is completed, and we are going to increased on-site capacity for testing going forward, addressing the demand that we have for testing today in Arizona. And with that, I’m going to turn it over to our director of health services who has been working around the clock since our first case was named in January 27th, to give us the current situation on public health in Arizona, Dr. Cara Christ.
Dr. Christ: (27:25)
Thank you, Governor. So there’s several projects that we are working on. One of the biggest priorities is increasing test collection sites, especially in Maryvale. So this weekend we had significantly increased demand for our testing. We’re currently working with community providers to increase the community-based testing in the West Phoenix and Maryvale area. We have offered providers additional contract support for financial assistance, we’re assisting with getting them collection kits, the National Guard to assist with parking and traffic control, courier service to get those specimens to the lab, and offering lab testing as well. Providers who are going to be assisting us with this increased testing include CVS, Walgreens, AkosMD. We are working with Equity Health, ASU, and Chicanos Por La Causa.
Dr. Christ: (28:22)
We’re also looking at increasing testing statewide. So not just focusing on that area, but looking across the state. We have added this week 62 additional sites added to our website. You can find that at AZhealth.gov/COVID19testing, and we’re working to get innovative partnerships out in the community. Our universities have been doing a great job in developing additional testing. So with working with our healthcare partners, our universities and other partners, we’re hoping to be able to scale up large scale testing, utilizing saliva, nasal swabs, and other types of testing.
Dr. Christ: (29:04)
We’re also assisting our laboratories with expanding testing capacity. So we were able to work with state, local, and our federal partners to bring on additional capacity for Sonora quest Labs. We know that they do a lot of the diagnostic and serology testing in the state. They had asked for assistance in obtaining an additional Roche testing machine. We were able to secure that. That should be here by July 6th. And over the weekend we had heard that they needed assisted or additional specimen collection kits. So we were able to get them 10,000 additional collection kits to help respond to that increased demand. And we’re going to continue to work with our healthcare partners and our laboratories to provide them with additional funding and collection kits as needed.
Dr. Christ: (29:57)
In addition, we have been providing funding to some of those larger sites so that they can increase collection sites across the state. We’ve given a million dollars each to Sonora Quest and TGen to support additional COVID-19 testing. To our local health partners and laboratories, we’ve distributed now over 51,000 collection kits and continue to get additional requests. And we’re assisting our laboratory partners with getting additional equipment, reagents, test kits and testing supplies so that they can continue to increase their testing capacity.
Dr. Christ: (30:38)
The other innovative option that we are looking at is promoting testing from home. So LabCorp has an at home testing option where you can go online, you can request a kit get sent to your house. They can mail it, you do it at home, and then you mail it back and they get you the results. So we are looking at using that for our contact tracing, individuals that are identified in contact tracing, who may have been a contact to a known case. They develop symptoms. They wouldn’t even need to leave their house. Public health could get a at home test sent to them and find out their status. We’re also working to work with workplace partners so that they can test their employees as needed as well from at home.
Dr. Christ: (31:28)
So to provide an update on where we are with our correctional facilities, we know that our congregate care settings are at higher risk for transmission of COVID-19. So we are currently working with Sonora Quest Labs to test the staff of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry. We have tested 645 of the staff, 45 of those have been positive. We are currently working with a contractor to test all inmates with PCR as well. There’s about 40,000. And then we’re working with our partners at the Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry to provide on-site technical assistance for infection control guidelines.
Dr. Christ: (32:15)
And to provide support to our hospitals and doctors, we will be extending the Good Samaritan executive order. So this was an executive order that was issued a couple of months ago, providing liability and protection to our healthcare workers, because we need our healthcare workers to be able to participate in caring for them. This is going to allow them to make the best possible choices to save the most number of people and to help everyone that they can under state approved protocols, without concern of liability. This extension provides immunity protection for all healthcare workers that are engaged in our response.
Dr. Christ: (32:57)
There’s also additional actions that we are taking to support our hospitals. I know that I’ve talked about the Arizona Surge Line. Arizona is unique in the fact that we stood up early a surge line that our hospital partners can call in order to get the patients to the right level of care at the right time. We have transferred over 1100 patients statewide utilizing the Arizona Surge Line. Just as the surge line gets those patients to a higher level of care if they need it, we also have the Post Acute Care Capacity Tracker, the PACCT line, where hospitals can utilize that to get real time information on beds at post acute facilities, such as skilled nursing facilities.
Dr. Christ: (33:40)
We are providing technical assistance on an individual hospital base on implementing surge plans as they need it. And as hospitals have identified that they need additional staffing, we are putting in resource requests and calling up volunteers through our Public Health Credentialed Volunteer line. We’re also developing, this is an innovative project that my team is working on right now, but it’s a new centralized model of nurse placement that will go in conjunction with the surge line where the state will be able to provide critical care and med surge nurses to our hospitals for up to six weeks as needed to make sure that they can continue to provide care to our residents. And then we are providing other resources as needed as they identify what those resources are. So we’re looking to slow and contain the spread of the virus. We have developed and implemented the statewide contact tracing plan that has been stood up. We are onboarding the National Guard, including bilingual guardsmen. And we’re also partnering with Chicanos Por La Causa to provide in-community bilingual contact tracing. And so we’re very excited to be able to use their partnership in our contact tracing efforts.
Governor Doug Ducey: (35:06)
Thank you very much, Dr. Christ. And I want to say thank you in advance to General McGuire. Not only is your team helping out on every front, including the fires that are burning in Arizona, but the brave women and men of the National Guard have been there from the beginning, helping restock the shelves, making certain that we could conduct peaceful protest, and now you’re helping with contract tracing in areas around our state. We are immensely grateful. And why don’t you update everyone on what’s happening with our fire situation?
Yes, sir. Thanks, Governor. On the fire front, fortunately, the three Type 1 Incident Management teams have all managed those crisis without having to ask for significant state or out of state resources. And all of them are currently in a sense of containment that they have that under control. So we’re very, very happy with DFFM, our state Forestry and Fire Management and National Forest Service and the great partnership they did with local fire and incident response teams, just outstanding work.
On the emergency management front, to follow up with what we’ve had in terms of requests, I just want to say, as the state emergency manager, we have received a number of requests this week through the state, through Dr. Christ and if there is one advantage to being a little bit late in the wave here, we have a great relationship with FEMA. We were able to double the amount of tests that we will receive from the federal government. We got 150,000 tests in May. They’ve given us a commitment to double that to 300,000 for June and July. And we’re going to go, as Dr. Christ said, from 41 sites that we had mobile testing set up, to add that out to 62, and we’ll work with her team over the next week to get that done. And on the Guard front, we’re adding another 150 guardsman, in addition to the 40 that we have today doing contact tracing. We’ll have 125 more available by Friday and 300 by midweek next week to allocate to all 15 counties as we help slow the spread. So thanks, sir.
Governor Doug Ducey: (37:19)
Thank you very much, General. Appreciate it. And again, thank you to all the hard work from everybody and DEMA and the National Guard. Some takeaways I hope everyone has from the last 20 minutes or so is to mask up. Please wear a mask. You’re safer at home. And be responsible out there. If I did have one ask, one request that I could make of the press that I believe can be very helpful and part of the solution in our present crisis, if you could do whatever you can in your power to make sure that every Arizonan hears today and wakes up tomorrow, and hears for the foreseeable future that you are safer at home. The virus is widespread. And with that, we’ll open it up for questions. Patrick?
We’ll start here with Howie.
Hello, Governor. Two questions. I appreciate that your Department of Liquor Licenses and Control is going to be acting. I think there’s something like 14 inspectors for the entire state. How realistic is it for DLLC to be out there? This is not just a Scottsdale problem. I’m hearing this from papers around the state. So do we need more inspectors? I mean, how do you really expect 14 inspectors to deal with this problem?
Governor Doug Ducey: (38:55)
Thank you, Howie. And first I want to talk about dealing with a bad actor. I hope everyone heard my thanks to all the Arizona businesses that are acting so responsibly and that’s the overwhelming majority of our businesses, but we have seen pictures of these bad actors. And this is a combination of local authorities working with the Department of Liquor. So you’re not talking about just 14 people in terms of boots on the ground, you’re talking about people that can respond to complaints or to situations, working with local authorities, and then with some authority at the local level and some authority at the state level. And that’s something we want to focus on. If you’ve not been cited, you can avoid being cited by enforcing physical distancing guidelines and whatever other guidelines that your local municipality has put forward for businesses. The important thing here is to slow the spread. Like I said, how we’re going to measure success is by seeing-
Governor Doug Ducey: (40:03)
Like I said, how we’re going to measure success is by seeing a decrease in case counts, and we’re never going to stop focusing on our most vulnerable. And I think if everyone can understand their role in this, whether they’re in harm’s way or not, they can catch this virus and they can spread this virus. And what we’re looking to is to break up the large social gatherings where this is happening.
Speaker 1: (40:27)
Great. One other thing. Bobby Robbins talked to the media this morning, and he was asked about reopening. And he said, “But if I had to say today we’d be open, I’d say no, because the ICUs are full. We cannot have a situation where we’re bringing students back to campus, asking our faculty and staff to come back to campus, ordinarily, truly an exponential growth in a number of cases here.” When the head of your University of Arizona, who is medically trained is saying it’s dangerous to have students on campus, how can you go ahead and say, we’re going to open public schools?
Governor Doug Ducey: (41:01)
What we’re planning for is the fall semester. What we’re planning for is to educate our children, and how we want to do it is, in guidance with public health, most of our schools are not opening up today or tomorrow, although some are. And what we’re working with the superintendents and principals on is maximum flexibility, maximum resources. We know that they know how to distance learn. We know that distance learning is not optimal for every child. And that’s the guidance that’s been put forward. It’s what I said, being vigilant, being flexible and being humble. We’re not acting as if we know anything for certain about what’s going to happen in the future. What we want to do is provide for the education of our children in the safest, most successful way, and have options out there.
Speaker 1: (42:03)
Okay. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (42:05)
We can go to Billy next, from iHeartMedia. Billy, go ahead.
Governor Doug Ducey: (42:08)
Thank you, governor. Governor, very serious tone today. Obviously we’re seeing spike in cases. You’re asking the people of Arizona to pause and to stay at home. If that doesn’t work, how close are we to another shutdown? And another stay-at-home order. And if I may, a lot of people on social media been asking about the president’s rally that you were at, and in all fairness, you and Senator McSally were wearing a mask. Most people were not. Vice President Mike Pence is coming, as you know, on Tuesday to Tucson. Will you limit these type of rallies in Arizona moving forward?
Governor Doug Ducey: (42:45)
So first, thank you Billy. Let me answer the question around. We know that what we’re suggesting right now, first, I want to say Arizonans have been great. They’ve been responsible. They’ve listened. And on any order or request, what’s most important is compliance. And I think we all remember March 30th and March 31st, and what our state was like over the course of April, and there was a real slowdown, and you saw the numbers respond. We have tools in our tool box. We have arrows in our quiver, so to speak. We want to use the ones that we know will work. We know this one will work. We believe this one will work. Now we need to prove it out. And that’s why I said the expectation should be that cases and hospitalizations will be worse next week and the week following. It takes a little while to do this.
Governor Doug Ducey: (43:45)
In fairness to what Howie said, we are not at capacity, okay? We are managing hospital capacity right now so that we can care for people. But what we want to do is continue to be in a position to do that while we slow this spread. This virus is not going away. There’s not a cure. There’s not a vaccine. This is something we want to find a way that we can live with safely for all our citizens as best we can going forward. I’m going to continue to wear a mask. I’m going to continue to socially and physically distance.
Governor Doug Ducey: (44:25)
In terms of at least my understanding that this is an an official White House visit that’s happening with Vice President Pence next week, and I have a job to do. The President and Vice President have a job to do. When that job’s in Arizona, we’re going to accommodate them. The other thing I want to say, when I’m able to spend time with the Vice President and the President, and this is a benefit for Arizona, but it’s not necessary, because they’re always just one phone call away. But part of what you’re seeing with the Roche machine coming here was the ability to make the case about what was needed for Arizona right now and urgently. And we are first in line.
Thank you, governor.
Speaker 2: (45:17)
We’re going to go to the Zoom board next. We’re going to hear from Lorraine Rivera from Arizona Public Media from Tucson. Lorraine, go ahead.
If you could explain how the positive cases are currently tabulated. Are individuals who are hospitalized, are they tested every day? And if they are positive, does that then become a new case in the system?
Governor Doug Ducey: (45:40)
Dr. Christ: (45:42)
Sure. So the way that we count our cases is, we are aware that people will get multiple tests. However, if you are a case, you are only counted once, and we do not count those subsequent tests as additional cases. If you are hospitalized and you are one of the cases that has been hospitalized and shown on our dashboard, you are not counted twice as a case. You are counted as a case who has been hospitalized. And so we work very carefully to de-duplicate. Each case is a unique individual.
Speaker 2: (46:21)
We’re going to come back to the room. We’ll go to Jeremy [inaudible 00:06:23].
Governor Doug Ducey: (46:27)
Governor. We’ve heard a lot about, over the past few weeks and today, about hospital capacity. And obviously those statewide numbers are always available on the ADHS website, but we don’t have that information for individual hospitals and hospital systems. Without that more granular data, how can Arizonans be confident about the capacity situation in these hospitals systems?
Governor Doug Ducey: (46:49)
So in terms of hospital capacity, ICU capacity, ventilator capacity, emergency department capacity, we aggregate those numbers by collection from the hospital systems. The reason I would say to Arizonans that they can be confident is, we report those numbers every day in the aggregate. In addition, we have put forward the surge line, and we put the surge line out there early. So even if a hospital or a facility were to hit a maximum occupancy, we are prepared to transport patients that need it to hospitals that have capacity. And everything I’m showing you today on the numbers and the charts and the Arizona Department of Health Services website is existing hospital capacity. We have surge capacity, if needed. It’s not needed today, but this is a pandemic. We have been planning for a worst case scenario. If it comes our way, we’re prepared for it. Dr. Crist, do you have anything to add?
Dr. Christ: (48:05)
No, that’s okay.
Speaker 2: (48:05)
We’ll go to Dave [inaudible 00:48:06].
Governor Doug Ducey: (48:11)
Hi, good afternoon, Dr. Crist, this is regarding the state hospital. There’s been a pretty large outbreak there, and we have a growing number of employees telling us they don’t feel safe, that they’ve been asked to shuffle between units where there’s COVID patients and non-COVID patients, that some people that have been exposed or tested positive, they say some employees are being asked to come back within 14 days, sometimes 10 days. What would you say to those employees and residents? And are you worried about the outbreak there?
Dr. Christ: (48:40)
So we have been engaged with the Arizona state hospital. We are concerned about our patients and our staff out at the hospital. Back in March, when we started our response, they proactively implemented temperature checks, have implemented symptom screens, mandatory face mask wearing and infection control protocols. So they’re working very closely with our epidemiologists to do contact tracing as well as advanced testing. But if any staff has any concerns, they can always bring it up. We will listen.
So just as a followup, you talked about some of the steps taken in March. Almost all of the cases, like all of them, have been in the last three weeks. We’re hearing that not all staff or residents are being tested. We have a pretty significant portion of the population, they’re now positive. Are you going to test everybody there?
Dr. Christ: (49:34)
So we are offering testing to all employees. We were doing it daily. Any employee who wanted to get tested, we are still offering that weekly, and if they ask us. So we’re providing testing, and the patients are getting tested if they are either a contact or if they are symptomatic. So we are working on that. And to clarify the question, we are making them stay out per the guidelines. We are not letting them return until they meet CDC criteria to return back to work.
Speaker 2: (50:05)
We’re going to go back to the Zoom board here. We’re going to hear from Anita Snow from the Associated Press. Anita, go ahead.
Anita Snow: (50:13)
Hi, this is a question for the governor. So I wanted to ask you about using hospital capacity as the main factor in deciding whether to reopen businesses, because a lot of public health experts say other factors are probably better measures. Like for instance, in Arizona, now we have a 23% positive test rate for the last seven days. And we’re just wondering, why the hospital? Why are we saying that measuring?
Governor Doug Ducey: (50:43)
Thank you, Anita. And let me clarify, the measure that we used in terms of reopening of our economy, or lifting the stay home, stay healthy, stay connected order, came from the Centers for Disease Control. It’s the White House gating criteria, and it’s not just hospital real capacity. That’s one of four separate metrics. It begins with symptoms, cases, hospital capacity, and testing. So those are our numbers that we continue to monitor. We will continue to monitor going forward. And I answered Jeremy around why Arizonans can have confidence given that fact that we aggregate all our information on the Arizona Department of Health website, but we also talk directly with the hospitals and with the hospital providers. This is something Dr. Crist has been very close to, and we’re blessed in Arizona with the finest hospitals anywhere in the world, and doctors and nurses and operators, as well.
Governor Doug Ducey: (52:00)
So it’s a combination of those things. That’s why we’re talking about how we will measure progress going forward, is the idea of slowing the spread. And that’s the downward trajectory on symptoms. That’s both influenza-like, and COVID-like. Again, that comes from the CDC, the number of cases, and then a reduction in positivity. Not for the foreseeable future, there’s not going to be a week that we come here and don’t have a case. The viruses is widespread. It can’t be stopped. It doesn’t go away. What we can be hopeful and optimistic for is a vaccine, a cure or a therapeutic. That’s not where we are today.
Speaker 2: (52:52)
We’re going to come back to the room. We’ll go back there to Von [inaudible 00:52:55] from NBC News.
Governor Doug Ducey: (52:55)
Hello there. I appreciate you both. July 6th, you said the new Roche machine was going to be coming in. It’s about two weeks from now. Over the next two weeks, should folks continue to expect the results will not come in for a test for a good week from now? And my second question for you, Governor Ducey, a lot of us were out there this week with the President, and this is a President who does not believe what we say, refers to us in derogatory terms frequently. He calls it fake news. Not all of us have access to the President to tell him what’s happening here or what was happening outside. When you had that chance, did you tell him that the mortality rate is not going down in this state? And did you tell him that the situation is not good here and that we need more access to testing?
Governor Doug Ducey: (53:46)
I was very candid. Thank you, Von. And yes, I was able to spend a lot of time with the President this past week, and some one-on-one time. So of course in my responsibility, I’m going to take full advantage to share what’s happening in Arizona, what our specific needs are. And I will say that the President and Vice President have both been incredibly responsive to Arizona. I believe they have been to governors, but I can only speak for myself. I received a personal phone call from President Trump wanting to know the situation on Navajo Nation that resulted in a hundred additional ventilators being surged to us from FEMA, and I was able to give him the facts on the ground in Arizona right now, and how we’re dealing with it, and I’m going to continue to do that. That’s my responsibility.
Dr. Christ: (54:46)
And to talk about the increased testing capacity. So we don’t want Arizonans to have to wait, either to get the test or to get the test results, because we know how nerve-wracking that can be. We did work to, while the machine won’t be here until July 6th, one of the limiting things was the number of test kits and the reagents that they had. Sonora Quest has the ability to run more tests if they had that. So we were able to work with Roche to get those reagents. We are still working to try and continue that increased supply. And then we’re working with the partners out in the field to make sure that even if there is a way, there are bathrooms, there are water so that Arizona can get tested and then get the results.
What should folks expect over these next two weeks? Should we expect what we similarly saw this weekend until that machine and the steps can be taken?
Dr. Christ: (55:37)
So hopefully the backlog is getting relieved with those additional kits. So hopefully the turnaround tests on the labs will improve. We’re also hoping that with the addition of these additional sites and additional places to find testing, that people won’t have to wait as long. What we think is, it’ll probably take a weekend or two before the wait times will be back to normal.
Governor Doug Ducey: (56:04)
And Von, I want to acknowledge that’s a problem that needs to be fixed. Nobody should have to wait as long as some of the stories I saw, as people were waiting. We’re working with our private sector partners. We’re calling up the National Guard to be helpful. We did have several weeks where the demand was not matching the supply of tests that we had. That’s dramatically changed now. People want to get a test. We want them to test. We want to make it as easy and convenient as possible. It’s not going to resolve itself overnight, but it’s something we are acknowledging and addressing to the best of our ability. And I am thankful to the administration for their responsiveness on our asks, and their deliveries.
Speaker 2: (56:54)
We’ll go to Dennis and then Nicole.
Governor Doug Ducey: (57:00)
Good afternoon, governor. So I just wanted to ask you, you’re stressing here today that the COVID-19, it is everywhere. It is growing fast. You said that the numbers are heading in the wrong direction. However, this is not new. We’ve seen these numbers and I won’t bore you with all the details. I think everybody in the room is familiar with the numbers, trending in this direction for weeks now. Do you feel like that you made any mistakes? Should you have kept that stay at home order in place longer? What could you have done differently?
Governor Doug Ducey: (57:31)
So our stay at home order was in place for six weeks. We actually, if you’re remember, and Arizonans were terrific around this. We actually extended it two additional weeks when you might’ve been able to make the case that we were in the gating criteria, and certainly approaching the gating criteria.
Governor Doug Ducey: (57:53)
I’d like to offer a new analogy to this, because I want to just be straight up with the media here. And I know that it’s your job to ask the tough questions, but there’s no magical decision or golden government action that will stop this virus. It is among us, it is widespread, and it is growing. That’s why I’m talking about the idea of saving lives and protecting livelihoods.
Governor Doug Ducey: (58:29)
I’ve used an analogy that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I think maybe a more apt analogy would be that this is a nine-inning game. So there’s no timeframe, and these can be long innings, and you can go into extra innings. And we’ve had our fair share of good at-bats, but the virus gets to come up every half inning.
Governor Doug Ducey: (58:58)
So what we’re going to deal with now over the next 30 or 40 days, I believe will slow the spread of this virus. And then we will have a period of time, and then we will head into a second wave. We’re going to be dealing with this. I don’t know if you saw the first paragraph that I put out here and what this is doing globally. I’m acknowledging and addressing what’s happening in Arizona, and we’re going to continue to address it. I haven’t been very retrospective as of late, Dennis. We’ve had a lot on our plate. What I’ve said is I’m going to be vigilant, flexible, and humble, and that’s going to be the posture going forward.
Specifically, should the state have been cracking down on these bars weeks ago? Could that have slowed the spread? Could you have been wearing a mask and setting an example weeks ago, when these numbers were trending this way?
Governor Doug Ducey: (59:48)
If I could point out something I would do differently is, because we’ve put those orders out there and we’re going to continue as necessary to escalate. There has been a tremendous amount of focus. We declared a state of emergency in Arizona on March.
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:00:03)
… focus. We declared a State of Emergency in Arizona on March 11th. And the first executive order was around our longterm care facilities. And that is where our most vulnerable are. We’re going to continue to focus on that. And I don’t want to say we have our arms around it, because there’s so much more to do to address the loneliness and disconnection there. But we didn’t have a lot of discussion around how this virus was spread, how contagious and easily spread it was. And I think if we can get everyone pitching in. And even if they’re not in, in the same harm’s way for mortality, they can be helpful. And that’s what we’re going to be enlisting.
One last question about the president. You said you had a chance to speak with him one-on-one. Obviously you went through the numbers here in Arizona. You said we’re not alone. Other states are seeing big increases. The country is continuing to see an increase. Do you think he’s provided effective leadership in dealing with this pandemic? Do you trust him moving forward? After all, he did say he wants to slow testing down.
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:01:09)
I want to thank the president for one, his responsiveness to Arizona. If he said that he was going to slow testing down, well he wasn’t referring to Arizona, because we’ve increased testing. And we’re going to continue to increase testing. And what I also want to thank him for is the recognition that this is something where governors need flexibility. Like I said, we saw what other states were going through in March and April and May. We were preparing at that time for what is now our time in June, July, and August. And that flexibility has been provided from the president and vice president and coronavirus. Can I finish the answer please? Can I finish the answer? From the Coronavirus taskforce, accessibility to Dr. Deborah Birks, Robert Redfield, Anthony Fauci. I believe you’ve had the same kind of accessibility, constant communication on a weekly basis. And like I said, this is something that each state is battling. And it’s not only in the United States. It’s in 184 countries around the world.
Sorry. Hi, governor.
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:02:31)
It’s nice to see you. Governor, I don’t know if you’ve been inside an ICU ward from the beginning, but you acknowledged frontline workers. They’re exhausted. ICU beds, we’re nearing capacity for available beds. When are you going to stop relying on hospital capacity, surge capacity? As a Tucson resident wrote in a letter directly to you in the Tucson Sentinel, “Relying on hospital beds,” she says “sounds cruel.” And she said, ” Arizonans breaths are in your hands.” Do you understand that?
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:03:07)
Nicole, when someone is sick they need a hospital bed. And our citizens go to hospitals to recover. We have the finest hospitals, among the finest hospitals in the world. We have the most talented people inside them. This is a virus that is in every county in our state. We’re not relying on hospital capacity. We’re using hospital capacity where necessary. And people are going into hospitals, becoming healthier, and recovering by and large. And we’re going to continue to do that as necessary. We can lower the stress and strain on hospital by slowing the spread of this. And that’s the focus.
That’s the point to see what we’re doing to slow the spread. And also I’m seeing a sense of urgency hearing it from you today, asking us, the media, to help inform people they’re safer at home. With all due respect, you are sending really bad signals. You say we’re safer at home, but you were inside a rally with the president, 3,000 people. You were seeing at steak dinners and a group of over 10 people. How does that lead by example?
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:04:19)
Well, first I want to say your reporting on my dinner is just wholly inaccurate. And it’s just wrong and made up. In terms of slowing the spread is something in terms of reducing these social gatherings, we will be able to slow the spread. Now in terms of the rights of people to peacefully assemble those rights are not going to be in infringed. It isn’t an election year in the United States and people’s constitutional rights will be protected. The objective here is that we slow the spread of this disease. Get your facts straight on the other stuff.
So you’re leading by example?
Speaker 3: (01:05:09)
We’ve got to keep moving. We’ve got Andrew Oxford with The Republic. Andrew, go ahead.
Andrew Oxford: (01:05:12)
Thanks governor [inaudible 01:05:14] necessitate surge capacity and also is there any thought given at this point to stopping electives right now?
Dr. Christ: (01:05:24)
So the surge capacity is going to depend on the individual hospitals, so they will decide if they need to increase their surge and open up additional beds. We’re trying to alleviate that with the Arizona Surge Line so that no hospital has to reach that. But we do have alternate care sites in place if we do need those beds. And we’re working very closely with our hospitals.
Dr. Christ: (01:05:47)
In response to the question about elective surgeries. So canceling elective surgeries is a tool that is available to our hospitals. Although we know that they rely the elective surgeries, for staffing for different things that we need hospitals to have in order to continue to function. So we are working with them. If they have individual resource requests, licensing is working with that individual hospital to see what those requests are, see what types of resources they need, see what steps they’ve already implemented. And that is a recommendation to those specific hospitals if they do need additional staffing or bed capacity to consider stopping the elective surgeries. But we’re allowing the systems to manage within the systems.
Andrew Oxford: (01:06:35)
Is there a percentage for surge capacity that you … an individual hospital, what is that?
Dr. Christ: (01:06:43)
So there’s not a specific percentage. It would really depend on the circumstances of that hospital. If a hospital had a high number of really high acuity patients, it could be the staffing that could result in them needing to need surge capacity. So it really is a case by case basis.
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:07:04)
And I want to say that Dr. Christ’s team and my team are working directly with the hospitals on this. They’ve asked for the flexibility so that they can provide the maximum level of care for each patient, which is where they are today. Again, we retain certain tools if necessary. That is not a necessary tool at this time, Andrew.
Speaker 3: (01:07:31)
We’re going to go back to the Zoom board. We’re going to hear from Kate Davis-Young from KJZZ. Kate, go ahead.
Kate Davis-Young: (01:07:39)
Governor Ducey, the economic impact of the virus has obviously been devastating and by the latest count, not 1,000 Arizona renters have been helped through the eviction prevention program, but your eviction moratorium is expiring now in less than a month. So your message today was all about being safer at home. What are you going to do to make sure everyone don’t end up losing their homes as this virus continues to spread?
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:08:05)
Thank you, Kate. Well, of course that’s a concern for us when we talk about the idea that we want to save lives and save livelihoods. That was part of it. Those are part of the executive orders that we put forward in March. We’ve also been able to work with our federal partners with not only the Arizona Unemployment Insurance, but the Federal Unemployment Insurance. And that’s been plussed up. So people, if they were displaced during this virus, we’re not putting a position where they did not have dollars coming in. That’s allowed them to make rent payments, or they should have been making rent payments. And we’re working with our federal partners on what the rest of the summer looks like before we make any decisions on what’s going to happen next.
Speaker 3: (01:08:59)
We’ll come back through. We’re going to [inaudible 01:09:01].
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:09:05)
Hello governor. Long walk from the cheap seats out there.
Here’s what you said a few minutes ago, anyone can get this virus and anyone can spread it. So can you tell us why you were at an event with 3,000 people? Almost none of them wearing masks, a partisan political event. That just sets the wrong example and might be a super spreader event.
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:09:32)
So the thing I want to say is you can avoid contracting this virus. Wearing a mask is a huge part of avoiding con contracting this virus. Also physically distancing from people. And I’m going to continue to do that going forward.
With all due respect, you didn’t answer the question, sir. Again, why did you even go to an event with 3, 000 people sitting next to each other without masks?
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:10:02)
People’s rights to assemble are not going to be infringed in an election year or any year in the state of Arizona.
Even at the cost of them getting sick or other-
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:10:13)
It’s a constitutional right. And you’re showing some real intellectual dishonesty here. We’ve been consistent on people’s rights to assemble. We’ll continue to be.
May I ask one question for our Facebook viewers?
Speaker 3: (01:10:28)
[crosstalk 01:10:28] question, pleases.
Thank you. Our Facebook viewers would like to know will you do anything to restrict youth sports or congregate settings given what you’ve just said here today?
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:10:40)
So I’m going to defer to public health on this question and our guidance going forward. Dr. Christ.
Dr. Christ: (01:10:49)
So thanks, Bram. We do know that congregate settings, especially for youth, that can be a high risk of transmission. So we are working with summer camps. As far as I’m aware, the summer camps that have spoken to me, we have said we are not at a place to be opening. We believe that that is high risk. If it’s an overnight like congregate living setting. So, that is still the guidance.
Speaker 3: (01:11:17)
Peter from KTAR.
Hello, governor. So I get your answers on what happened on Tuesday, but going forward since the vice president is coming to Tucson next week, and also Yuma, would you be in a position to encourage the White House to discourage crowds? Yes, the people have the right to assemble, but we’re also in a public health crisis. How can you as governor try to strike a balance between the two?
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:11:47)
Thank you, Peter. I think that is the right way to look at this. We do have to have a balance, not only around the saving lives, which is what we want to focus on and err on that side, but also saving livelihoods and protecting livelihoods. And the idea here is to slow the spread. There are plenty of congregate settings and larger social gatherings that we can avoid to do that. That’s how we will know that we’re making progress. And I’ll continue to advocate in the best interest of Arizonans at every turn.
Should be able to tell that to the White House, then. That advocacy.
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:12:27)
I believe the visit is an official visit that is around the healthcare situation in, in, in Yuma County. So like I said, the president and vice president have a job. I have a job. We’re not going to get in the way of the job that they have to do. And this relationship has served Arizona well. And their focus is on states that are having issues to address that in its turn. And that’s been my experience.
One quick followup for doctor [crosstalk 00:01:13:00]. The Tuscan event? That’s what he was saying. Okay. Really quick, Dr. Christ, there’s a been a story out of Las Vegas, where Arizonans are being hospitalized there. Are you familiar with this? Do you know what parts of Arizona they’re coming from to seek hospitalization? And is this an indication that we’re at capacity or even passing capacity in certain parts of the state?
Dr. Christ: (01:13:23)
So I’m not aware of that specific story. And I can go back and take a look as far as the Surge Line’s aware we have not transferred Arizonans out of Arizona. So that may be that Las Vegas may just be an area that’s closer for those specific Arizonans. But I’ll take a look at that.
Speaker 3: (01:13:40)
We’re going to wrap it up, [inaudible 00:01:13:42]. Howie, one more please.
I was going to go down different path, but I’m a little curious, governor, you talked about people’s rights to assemble and everything else. You have a right to drive, but the state can still say you wear a seatbelt. You have a right to drive, the state can still say you shouldn’t be drunk. Why not … these people could have assembled and complied with the city ordinance to all wear masks. And yet you seem to suggest that because somehow it’s a campaign event that somehow that doesn’t apply. How do you send the message of people? You had a big slide behind you. Wear a mask. And yet you attended and went to an event and didn’t say anything to the president. And didn’t say anything to the crowd about wearing a mask. It seems like you’re sending the wrong message.
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:14:31)
Well, I had a mask on the entire time. I am encouraging mask wearing. We’re seeing a dramatic increase in mask wearing. We have 75% of our state that has guidance out there on mask wearing. A mask can make a huge difference. I’m going to continue to advocate for that. I’m going to continue to promote that. We are going to protect freedom of the press and the right of the people to peaceably assemble in an election year or any year. It’s in the First Amendment, Howie.
Understood. But let me just … I just want to make sure I understand.
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:15:15)
You you seem to want to read that amendment Howie, with emphasis on something that benefits you, but not others. I have a First Amendment right to assemble. It doesn’t mean I can stand here naked.
Speaker 3: (01:15:26)
Thank you Howie.
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:15:28)
Thank you for not doing that, Howie.
Speaker 3: (01:15:29)
We’re going to take our last question from the Zoom board here, Rachel Leingang from the Arizona Republic. Rachel, go ahead.
Rachel Leingang: (01:15:37)
Hi, governor. Part of the idea behind stay at home orders is to buy time to [inaudible 01:15:43], make sure hospitals are in a good position. Did we adequately use our time? And if so, how did we miss testing? How did we miss tracing?
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:15:55)
Well, the first thing I want to say is I believe we used our time very well. What we were doing the entire time was building that capacity so that we could care for people. If you look at some of the slides I showed earlier in the presentation, you could see that we had slowed the spread in Arizona to a crawl, to an actual crawl in Arizona. To do that again is very possible. And that’s why I’m asking Arizonans to stay at home. You really can only do contact tracing the way we’re going to do it now in a surge capacity when you have contacts to trace. Our positivity was low. We had our county health inspectors running the contact tracing the way it’s traditionally done from an epidemiology perspective. We’re dealing with a pandemic here. We’re dealing with a novel and new virus to Arizona. That’s why the National Guard and additional resources are being brought in. And we’ll continue to do that.
Governor Doug Ducey: (01:17:06)
Like I said, I have every confidence that we can slow this spread again. And then this still won’t be over. It will be what’s next? What does the next inning hold for the state of Arizona? So I want to say to the citizens of Arizona, this is our update. We’re going to continue to communicate where we are in terms of our state. The virus is widespread here. And I’m asking you, I’m enlisting you to be part of the solution here. And to remember that you are safer at home. The virus is widespread in Arizona. Thank you.