PHOENIX - A stay-at-home order that was issued by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to slow the spread of the new coronavirus has taken effect in Arizona.
"The time for further action is now," Gov. Ducey said Monday, during a news conference. "Stay home, stay healthy and stay connected."
According to the executive order, the stay-at-home order, officially titled as a "Stay home, Stay healthy, Stay connected" policy, asks Arizonans to limit their time away from their home. The order took effect at the close of business Tuesday.
Gov. Ducey said people could still go outside.
"We do not want people to feel trapped or isolated in their homes,” he said. “The weather is beautiful right now. Find a way to get out and enjoy it — with physical distancing."
People caught violating the order could be charged with a misdemeanor, but only after police warn them and provide an opportunity to comply.
Calls for order once met with resistance
Gov. Ducey had for weeks resisted making such a call. He prohibited mayors from forcing the closure of businesses on a lengthy list of enterprises deemed essential, from hospitals and grocery stores to golf courses and parks.
That order remains in effect, and businesses providing services on the list can remain open.
The governor said he took the action after the state’s top health official said it was necessary to slow the spread of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus.
Dr. Cara Christ, who oversees the Department of Health Services, said the rate of cases being seen in emergency rooms has been steadily rising from 2% to nearly 7% of all visits, and the percentage of positive tests had increased to about 6% of samples. She said the rise triggered her recommendation for people to stay at home.
Businesses react to order
At 5:00 p.m. Arizona Time on Tuesday, many businesses in the state closed their doors in compliance with Gov. Ducey's orders.
"We are very sad we have to close," said Susan Kannapel, owner of Ski Pro. "We have had this business for 40 years, and it's hard on us. This is the first time we have ever closed for anything other than Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving. It's a tough one."
Kannapel says the closure will be tough for the business. In the last month, the business has seen a 85% drop in business. Now, nothing is coming in.
"We had such a good winter with good snow," said Kannapel.
The business is remaining loyal to their employees, saying they will be paid, and no one will be laid off. They are just hoping that all of this will come to an end soon.
"We will stay afloat, no matter what," said Kannapel.
Since the other went into effect, there has been at least one incident related to accusations of non-compliance.
According to officials with the Avondale Police Department, officers responded to a furniture store, after they received a call about the business still being open.
"The police department did not close the business. Per the Executive Order, the business sells supplies/equipment that allows customers to purchase in order to work from home; such as desks," wrote a spokesperson for the Avondale Police Department.
Under Gov. Ducey's executive order, hair salons are considered to be essential businesses. However, some salons, like A Bit of Bliss Day Spa in Apache Junction, have already closed.
Leyna Negron, who owns A Bit of Bliss, says she didn't have to close down, but felt she needed to.
"We work in close proximity with our clients," said Negron. "We share breathing space. I’m doing nails, and sometimes my client spit on me when they were talking, and I do not have enough masks for every client that comes to the door. If I were to get infected, I don’t know how many clients I would infect."
Negron is simply scared. Scared for her business, for her future, and for her clients, as many of them are older in age.
"It’s hard to think about best hopes right now. I’m just sort of in a place of uncertainty and fear. So I haven’t had a chance to think about hope. I’m sort of stuck in a hole," said Negron.
Expert: Arizona waited too long, essential services list too broad
Arizona had lagged most other states in imposing restrictions. Nearly 230 million people live in states where governors have issued statewide shelter-in-place orders or asked people to stay at home.
In other states — including Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania — governors have resisted state-level proclamations or recommendations, but mayors and localities have acted.
"This is a shelter in place or social distancing order in name only, which is putting millions of people in Arizona at risk," said Dr. Gregg Gonsalves, commenting on Arizona's stay-at-home order.
Dr. Gonsalves, who studies the spread of disease at Yale University, says Arizona waited too long to issue such a order, and that the essential services list is too broad.
There is always hope, however.
"It’s never too late, right? You want to stem the tide of new infections and the amounts and cases that are going to end up in your emergency rooms, and I see use in the next coming weeks. So, the longer you wait, the less effective it’s going to be because you give the virus another day, another hour to spread across your cities or towns your state," said Dr. Gonsalves.
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In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.