The Governor’s Office told Arizona mayors Monday the state will essentially mirror President Trump’s plan to reopen the economy in phases, but that it’s not yet ready to take the first step.
Gov. Doug Ducey’s policy advisor Ben Blink said that on a morning conference call, one of several the office has had with mayors over the last month, and gave them the closest thing to an insight of how the office is considering a phased reopening. The announcement comes after Ducey said last week it was up to him, not Trump, when the state reopens.
When asked by Winslow Mayor Thomas McCauley what criteria Ducey would be looking for, Blink said the state will be using “basically the same” criteria in Trump’s plan. The state, Blink said, will be looking for downward trajectories in influenza-like illnesses and COVID-like illnesses.
“We want to make sure we’ve got the data we need that’s robust enough in Arizona before making those types of decisions,” Blink said.
Trump released his three-phase plan April 16, a set of skeletal guidelines for states that see fewer reports of COVID-19 and influenza-like illnesses for two weeks. The idea is to slowly open up businesses to normal operations while slowly reeling back social distancing measures.
“Right now, we do not consider ourselves to be in Phase One, mainly because we haven’t hit some of the key metrics that the White House is looking for to enter that phase,” Blink said. “I think we’re still waiting for that downward trajectory. We’re still waiting on that 14-day trajectory to be able to do that.”
Blink said the state will continue to rely on that public health data and that “more guidance is needed” for businesses that could reopen in that phase before they start that process.
Under Phase One of Trump’s plan, all “vulnerable individuals” would stay home when they can and those who do go out would continue to practice social distancing and avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, while some businesses would reopen with social distancing measures in place. Schools and bars would remain closed, visits to senior living facilities would be prohibited, however gyms, movie theaters, sporting venues and large venues could open if they allow for physical distancing and properly sanitized surfaces.
Ducey said last week he is fielding input from business leaders on what changes they would need in order to properly function and suggestions for what a phased reopening would look like in Arizona. His stay-at-home order is set to expire April 30 and he said last week he would do what’s best for Arizona, which could mean further extending the order if necessary.
Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak said the Governor’s Office is continuing to consider its options as that day approaches.
Ptak said as April 30 nears, the state is considering three options.
“We can let the order expire, [or] we can extend it as is, or we can extend it with changes and modifications that reflect Arizona’s improving situation on the ground,” Ptak said in a text message. “The decision will be based on the data over the next week as well as the guidance and recommendations of public health officials.”
Ptak would not say which of those options is most probable, only saying it will be a “data-driven decision,” data which the state will track over “the next week or so.”