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What went wrong in Arizona for COVID-19 cases to sky rocket? Experts weigh in

Arizona is now one of the worst coronavirus hotspots anywhere in the world. Per capita cases in the state are outpacing every country in Europe.

Health officials are now left with the question of, "What went wrong?"

In a Thursday news conference, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey says this is Arizona's first wave of the virus as hospital beds are filling up and restaurants are shutting down, again.

The governor's office responded to this report by saying, “We followed all CDC guidelines in trying to make the best decisions possible for the resident's of Arizona.” 

“I think it starts at the top. I think that we haven’t seen great leadership at the top," says Dana Marie Kennedy, director at Arizona's AARP chapter.

RELATED: Gov. Ducey urges Arizonans to stay at home amid rising COVID-19 cases; expect hospital surge capacity

She demanded more safety and transparency months ago and even now sees a clear lack of leadership and communication illustrated by elected officials holding unmasking rallies.

She blames young adults for crowding into bars, too. “In Arizona, I can go to a bar and nightclub tonight and have a great time. But what I can’t do, is if my mom or grandmother was in a facility, I cannot go visit them," Kennedy said.

Arizona was also slow to start testing, and now people wait in line for hours for a test. Securing protective gear took too long as well.

The state never did mandate mask-wearing, but instead left it to local governments to decide.

RELATED: Arizona COVID-19 cases rise by over 3K for 4th day in week

The once fairly flat curve shot up, higher than New York ever saw.

“The policy has to be aggressive enough that it influences human behavior in a way that is meaningful," said Will Humble, former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Gov. Ducey repeatedly said an increase in cases was always expected.

“We have an advantage over other states that had outbreaks early on. We have more time to prepare," Ducey said.

RELATED: Trump orders flags lowered to half-staff for three days for those who died from COVID-19

Even now, as other hotspots states like Texas and Florida scale back, Arizona is not.

The governor is instead “asking” people to stay home, like the order he lifted more than a month ago.

The valley is starting to see our first enforcement of large gatherings and social distancing. Several Scottsdale bars have been put on notice and will be closed for the weekend.

If mask-wearing is working, we should see the curve start to flatten again sometime in July.