President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s handling of the pandemic — even as the virus tears through the state at an alarming rate.
“Arizona's record in reducing the spread of the virus while maintaining hospital capacity and allowing society to continue functioning and functioning very nicely, very successfully, is an example that shows how our path forward can work in other states,” Trump said at a White House briefing, calling Arizona “a state that is a model for applying a science-based approach to the decreasing cases and hospitalizations without implementing a punishing lockdown.”
Key context: Arizona’s coronavirus cases surged dramatically after the state relaxed restrictions on businesses and gatherings in May. While most states in the country have implemented mandatory mask-wearing rules, Arizona has not, though several individual counties did so.
The state has seen recent improvements, due in part to the move in late July to close down bars and some other businesses and reimpose restrictions on large gatherings.
By the numbers: Cases have decreased 24 percent in the last two weeks, according to the Covid Exit Strategy, but the numbers are still high. The state has the fifth-highest number of current hospitalizations in the country, the fifth-highest number of new cases in the last week, and the fifth-highest rate of tests that come back positive.
Arizona has a test positivity rate of about 18 percent — far higher than the 5 percent that the CDC says indicates sufficient testing and control of the virus. It’s an improvement, however, on the nearly 25 percent test positivity rate the state was reporting two weeks ago.
The state’s ICU beds are also more than 80 percent full.
“We’ve seen improvement week over week for four weeks,” Ducey told Trump when he visited the White House earlier Wednesday. “But we’re going to keep our guard up and stay vigilant.”