Ducey: Events larger than 50 people should be cancelled

By: - March 15, 2020 5:04 pm
coronavirus COVID-19

A 3D model of COVID-19, the virus causing the coronavirus. Photo by NIAID-RML | Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Arizona public health officials are adopting recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that any events larger than 50 people scheduled for the next eight weeks be cancelled to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus,” the CDC wrote in its guidance, which was issued Sunday.

Gov. Doug Ducey made the announcement in a tweet Sunday afternoon.

Examples of large events that should be cancelled or postponed include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events and weddings. 

The recommendations don’t apply to the day-to-day operations of businesses or higher-education institutions.

It also likely doesn’t apply to the Arizona Legislature, which is scheduled to resume its work Monday. Although legislative leaders have said they will restrict public access to the Capitol, they plan on continuing holding committee hearings and floor debates of proposed new laws.

Many other state legislatures have suspended their operations for the immediate future, including Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado and Maine.

Some lawmakers are already calling for Arizona to follow suit.

“When we return to work tomorrow we should strongly consider suspending session until further notice,” Sen. Sean Bowie, a Phoenix Democrat, wrote on Twitter in response to Ducey’s announcement.

It is unclear whether GOP legislative leaders will consider further restrictions on access or suspending work altogether. 

Senate President Karen Fann on Sunday expressed opposition to closing down schools – something Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced several hours later – and characterized large-scale shutdowns as “panic” that wasn’t needed.

There are currently 13 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Arizona.

Ducey on March 11 declared a state of emergency as the state combats the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 illness. On March 12, the Legislature approved $55 million in emergency funding and limited public access to the State Capitol and legislative chambers.

On March 13, President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency.

Early Saturday, the U.S. House of Representatives freed up $50 billion to fight COVID-19 and the spread of the coronavirus.

There are nearly 1,700 verified COVID-19 cases in the United States and 41 people have died.

How you can tell if you might have been impacted

Symptoms of coronavirus resemble that of the flu. So, if you’re experiencing coughing, fever, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath, you should consider getting checked out. Call your primary care physician or visit an urgent care center or emergency room — but call the health care provider before you go so they can be prepared for your arrival. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is taking COVID-19 calls: 1-844-542-8201

How it spreads

  • Through the air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it

How to prevent spreading it

  • Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Don’t use your hands.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Clean surfaces frequently, including counter tops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
  • Contain: if you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.