Gov. Doug Ducey believes Arizona could be “back to normal’’ by this summer once Arizonans get vaccinated for COVID-19.
In a conference call last week, the governor laid out a schedule for business leaders that he said should make the vaccine available for “prioritized groups’’ in the middle of December.
And the general public? That, Ducey figures, would be “in the spring, in March or April.”
Ducey’s conference call with business leaders came as data released Nov. 25 by the county health department showed that levels indicating virus spread are increasing in Ahwatukee and the two public school districts serving it.
The latest data from the county showed that for the week of Nov. 15, cases per 100,000 jumped to 215 in Kyrene’s boundaries and to 246 within Tempe Union’s boundaries. That indicates substantial virus spread.
The data are 12 days old when the county posts them on Thursday mornings.
Ahwatukee’s three ZIP codes presented a mixed picture of virus spread for the week of Nov. 15. The data showed cases per 100,000 people rising to 220 in 85048, staying the same as the week before at 208 in 85045 and dropping slightly to 167 in 85044. More than 100 cases per 100,000, however, indicates substantial spread.
The other two metrics – percentage of positive test results and hospital visits with COVID-like symptoms – showed moderate spread in all three ZIP codes.
State Health Director Cara Christ said her department already is looking to qualify providers who could actually administer the vaccine.
But the governor said the key is getting Arizona from where it is now to the point when those vaccines are widely available.
Christ said there is a “concerning’’ increase in COVID-19 infections. And Ducey has conceded Arizona has a “stressed’’ hospital system.
Still, the governor said he has no plans for any new restrictions beyond those that remain in place, such as occupancy limits at bars, restaurants, movie theaters and fitness centers.
“Right now, businesses are open,’’ he said. “They’re open because businesses have been responsible and worked with health officials to implement smart mitigation measures.’’
And Ducey said he wants businesses open.
“But I need them open safely,’’ he told the owners and managers. “And to do that, we need your help today.’’
For the moment, Ducey and Christ are limiting their effort to encouraging more voluntary compliance. That, said the health director, starts with masks – and not just while shopping.
“This includes every setting where you will be around people who do
not live with you,’’ she said, even in private homes.
And for businesses, Christ recommended limiting the number of people indoors, even to the point of having customers wait outside.