Arizona was a Covid-19 hotspot a month ago. This is how it changes things

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Today, this decision seems to have paid off.

CNN analysis of Covid-19 data from Johns Hopkins University shows that as of July 8, Arizona had an average of around 3501 new cases daily over a seven-day period. That average is steadily declining week-to-week, and as of Wednesday, the state averaged 1,990 new cases per day over a seven-day period.

The turnaround caught the attention of health experts, who praised Arizona as an example of a state that has successfully reimplemented mitigation efforts as cases escalated.

“We saw in Arizona, which was a good example, they went up (in cases) and they started to really crack down and do it right. And the cases went down right away, ”Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s John Berman Thursday morning.

The state and its governor, Doug Ducey, were congratulated on Wednesday by President Donald Trump and Dr Deborah Birx in the Oval Office, where Ducey attributed the downward trend to Arizonans wearing masks, physically distancing themselves, washing themselves hands and staying at home in case of illness.“They’ve really done a great job putting these pieces together and really creating this path,” said Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. She pointed to Arizona’s improvement as a model that might work for other states.

Of course, as things improve, the state – like the rest of the country – is unclear.

Arizona reported nearly 1,400 cases Thursday, bringing the state’s total to more than 183,000. And the death toll continues to rise, with more than 4,000 total deaths on Thursday.

“It’s not a victory round,” Ducey said last week after discussing the state’s downtrend. “It’s not a celebration. If anything, it’s proof that the decisions and sacrifices the Arizonans make are working. “

How Arizona Did It

The downward trend in Arizona cases came after the state reimposed coronavirus restrictions amid a summer wave.

“We’ve taken a few more steps,” Ducey said Wednesday. “We were in the unfortunate but responsible position of dispersing large crowds, so bars, nightclubs and gyms all closed temporarily,” he said.

“But by putting these steps in there, we saw improvement every week, week after week for four weeks,” he said.

Arizona began lifting home stay restrictions in early May, with Ducey saying cases were declining and “Arizona was moving in the right direction.”

On May 8, retail stores, barber shops and barbershops were allowed to resume in-person operations with certain guidelines. A few days later, on May 11, restaurants were allowed to resume food service. On that day, the state had a total of 11,383 cases of Covid-19.

Then things took a turn for the worse from there. Cases increased throughout June, totaling 79,228 on June 30 – up from 20,129 on June 1. The state was forced to try to rectify the situation before it got out of hand.

“The Covid-19 crisis only hit Arizona later,” Ducey explained. “We had a very difficult June, we had a much better July. ”

The governor suspended the reopening of the state on June 29. It issued a decree closing bars, gyms, cinemas and water parks for at least 30 days. The order also banned large events of more than 50 people, a few days before July 4.

In addition, the governor encouraged Arizonans to “mask themselves”, a week after saying he would not require thousands of people attending a Trump rally in Phoenix to wear them. Yet he stopped before issuing a statewide warrant.

At the time, Ducey warned his state that it would take time for the restrictions to be reflected in the state’s Covid-19 numbers.

“We expect our numbers to be worse next week,” he said. “It will take several weeks for the mitigation measures we are putting in place to take effect. A week later, the state’s health department reported that Arizona had exceeded 100,000 cases.

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In early July, the state received a visit from members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, including Birx and Vice President Mike Pence. Days later, on July 9, Ducey took another step back, limiting the capacity for meals inside to 50% before things started to improve.

The average of new daily cases over a seven-day period began to decline steadily each week, something the governor touted during his visit to the Oval Office on Wednesday.

Despite the improvement, Ducey acknowledges that Grand Canyon State was not out of the woods.

“Like I said, no celebration, no victory lap,” he said. “We will stay the course, stay vigilant and keep our guard. But we have a way to go in Arizona. “

CNN’s Joe Youorski contributed to this report.

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