Gov. Doug Ducey closes some businesses, calls for National Guard to aid during coronavirus outbreak

Ducey announced Thursday that he would close many non-essential businesses in affected counties and use the National Guard to distribute groceries

Gov. Doug Ducey called on the National Guard to distribute groceries and issued three executive orders to stop elective surgeries, to require restaurants to provide dine-out and delivery options only and to delay driver's license expiration dates to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The announced steps came Thursday after the confirmed cases of the coronavirus rose by 14 to a total of 44 cases in Arizona. 

Ducey announced Thursday that bars, restaurants, gyms and theaters should close in counties that have confirmed cases of coronavirus: Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, Coconino, Navajo and Graham. 

In Tempe, Mayor Mark Mitchell had announced just hours earlier Thursday that he was ordering all restaurants and bars to close.

READ MORE: Tempe mayor orders closures of bars, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms 

The National Guard will help store workers distribute groceries and "ensure Arizonans have continued access to food," Ducey tweeted. 

This week saw a demand in food and other resources as images of empty shelves and #ToiletPaperShortage surfaced on social media. 

The first executive order halts all elective surgeries, allowing medical facilities to free up space, resources and staff to be committed and focused to treating and testing for coronavirus. 

His second executive order requires restaurants to provide dine-out and delivery options only so that members of the community can continue to practice social distancing while still enjoying services they would outside of self-quarantine. 

READ MORE: Bars near ASU are closing due to COVID-19 concerns

The third Executive Order delays all expiration dates on driver's licenses, something Ducey said would stop people over 65, who are more at risk for complications related to COVID-19, from going to the Department of Motor Vehicles. 

Ducey was criticized this week by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and others for his less aggressive approach to containing the virus. 

Ducey waited until most school districts had decided to close on their own to recommend, alongside Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, that K-12 schools close through at least March 27.   

Tempe, Phoenix, Gilbert, Mesa and Buckeye declared citywide states of emergency by Wednesday, something Tempe had never done in response to a public health emergency. 

READ MORE: Tempe declares citywide emergency to combat coronavirus spread

Ducey said the statewide response, which will take effect Friday as businesses close, was based on reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and data on what works best to stop the spread of the virus. 

"This is an all-in effort," Ducey tweeted. "We remain focused in the state of Arizona on proactively limiting the spread of COVID-19 and will continue to protect public health." 

Reach the reporter at and follow @piperjhansen on Twitter. 

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