WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lauded Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey at the White House on Wednesday, as he pointed to the state as a model for the nation for handling “embers” of the coronavirus.
The state, like much of the Sun Belt region, began experiencing a severe spike in COVID-19 cases after Memorial Day, as aggressive reopening plans coincided with an increase in travel. Trump sought to highlight the surge in government resources and personnel to the state once federal officials observed an uptick in Arizona’s test positivity rate — a critical early warning sign of spreading infection.
Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said the state was an example of how to get the reproduction rate of the pathogen below 1, which means the outbreak is subsiding. The replication rate is the number of new infections generated by each case.
“Stay the course,” Birx said.
“No celebration, no victory lap,” Ducey said at the meeting.
Trump noted the state’s efforts to encourage face covering and discourage indoor dining and gathering at bars as examples for other states to follow when they experience what Trump has called “embers” of the outbreak. The nation set daily records for new cases as the Sun Belt spread intensified.
The federal government sent additional personnel to Arizona to assist medical professionals in treating cases, as well as doses of therapeutics like the antiviral drug remdesivir.
Arizona has more than 182,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,900 deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.