Governor promises increased testing - reduces capacity of restaurants
PHOENIX, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has announced a renewed push for expanded coronavirus testing in Arizona.
The state has seen a steady upward climb in cases since the beginning of June. Just Thursday, the number of new cases grew by more than 4,000. The state's positivity rate now sits around 27%, meaning more than a quarter of those tested are indeed infected with the virus.
Gov. Ducey said the best way to curb the spread of the virus is to stay home, wear masks, and practice social distancing. He believes if all Arizonans routinely practice these prevention techniques, the curve could flatten within two to four weeks.
Ducey also spoke directly to his critics, those who say he opened the state too early, and reacted to the surge in cases too late.
"I hear the criticism, and I know there are differing opinions out there on how Arizona is handling this virus. And I want to make a commitment to the people of Arizona. My decisions are not going to be influenced by any attempt to please the press, and they will not be influenced by politics in any way." Ducey said. "Everything we will do going forward will be to protect and promote the public health in Arizona."
The governor did issue a new Executive Order for dine-in restaurants. It's designed to further promote social distancing. The order restricts the number of guests to less than 50% of legal occupancy. Ducey suggested people who wish to eat out consider a change of venue.
"It is actually safer, if you look at the risk profiles, to eat outside, and there are many beautiful parks in our state where you a free to do that."
Gov. Ducey also announced a new initiative to expand testing exponentially. Ducey says right now testing is primarily reserved for the sick or symptomatic. He wants to make it available to anyone who wants it. Ducey says "Project Catapult" will help the state achieve that goal.
The state will team up with Sonora Quest Laboratories, and a number of private interests to launch the project. It aims to test 35,000 Arizonans per day by the end of July, with a total of 60,000 per day by the end of August.
"This will be an exponential increase in tests, and processing tests." said the governor.
Ducey said Arizona's access to additional testing supplies came as a direct result of recent meetings with Vice-President Mike Pence. The governor praised the White House's response to the state's pandemic-related needs.