Gov. Doug Ducey extends Arizona's stay-at-home order to May 15

During the announcement, Ducey said he wants all college students tested for COVID-19

Gov. Doug Ducey announced Arizona's stay-at-home order would be extended to May 15 with restriction modifications in a Wednesday press conference.

The stay-at-home order took effect on March 31 and was set to expire April 30 before Ducey's extension Wednesday. The order encourages Arizonans to only take part in essential activities and otherwise stay home to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

As of Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 7,202 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 304 deaths across all 15 counties in the state.

READ MORE: Gov. Doug Ducey declares statewide 'stay-at-home' executive order

In his press conference, Ducey said the two-week extension will also extend travel restrictions for people traveling from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. 

Reopening will begin in gradual, broad strokes, Ducey said, adding that small businesses can reopen with physical distancing for staff and sole offerings of pickup, delivery and appointment-only services. 

At the end of the first week, strict distancing guidelines will continue and comprehensive sanitation protocols should be adopted by small businesses that choose to open, Ducey said. 

Ducey said a more comprehensive plan for how restaurants should open to dine-in options will be announced next week. Federal guidelines for reopening advise states to restrict capacity and implement both distancing and sanitization practices once there is a downward trend in cases, an increased supply of personal protective equipment and sufficient hospital capacity. 

Former President Barack Obama's acting director of the Office of Pandemic and Emerging Threats, Mario Ramirez, told The Arizona Republic the state needs about 3,200 tests per day to safely reopen. The state has only tested about 1% of its population.

When more data about testing and hospitalizations become available, Ducey said he would make a decision on authorizing a complete reopening of restaurants and bars. Ducey said restaurant owners and health officials tell him the earliest they could open would be May 12. 

"I feel your frustration and I have a sense of urgency to reopen and I want to do that. I just want to do it at the right time and I want it to be successful," Ducey said, highlighting how he doesn't want to open too early just to be forced to close again.

Aside from modifications to his executive order, Ducey highlighted UA's program to test antibodies. In a press release Monday, UA said "a first phase of testing will begin on April 30 in Pima County and will include 3,000 health care workers and first responders."

The press release says 1,500 members of the public, including UA students and faculty residing in Pima County will be tested. Ducey said he'd love to see every college student tested for the virus. 

Starting next weekend, public health officials are preparing for what Ducey is calling a "testing blitz." The plan is to test anywhere between 30,000 and 60,000 people over three consecutive Saturdays. 

Ducey lifted restrictions on elective surgeries in the state starting May 1 if hospitals meet criteria provided to keep staff and patients safe.

At ASU, students and faculty have created an online network to connect businesses and health care providers for the purpose of producing and tracking personal protective equipment in the state. 

READ MORE: ASU creates network to aid medical supply production and distribution

Other state governors have also announced extensions of stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders. Last week, Illinois' Gov. JB Pritzker announced that the state's stay-at-home order will continue until May 30 with some slightly eased restrictions. Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts are just a handful of others that have also announced extensions. 


Reach the reporter at pjhanse1@asu.edu and follow @piperjhansen on Twitter. 

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