This State "Opened Way Too Early" as COVID Spiked, Official Admits
As coronavirus numbers surge across the country, the mayor of this state's capital is blaming reopening.
Many states started to reopen at the end of April and in early May once their stay-at-home orders expired. And while the coronavirus may have seemed more manageable after numbers fell from their peak in April, cases quickly rose again in June. Now, one state official, Kate Gallego, the mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, is admitting that her state reopened "way too early." "We were one of the last states to go to stay at home and one of the first to reemerge, and we reemerged at zero to 60," Gallego said on ABC's This Week on July 5. "We had crowded nightclubs handing out free champagne, no masks. … We opened way too early in Arizona."
The mayor's statement comes as Arizona nears 100,000 coronavirus cases and just after it hit its peak of new cases, according to data from The New York Times. Arizona's daily high for new coronavirus cases was on June 30 with 4,797.
Gallego said that the state's reopening is to blame for many residents assuming that the coronavirus crisis was over, when in reality, Arizona's severe COVID-19 cases spiked 400 percent following its reopening in May. The state reopened indoor dining on May 11, with bars and nightclubs opening their doors as well. "I think when nightclubs were open, it sent the signal that we had, again, defeated COVID, and obviously, that is not the case," Gallego said.
In order to combat Arizona's rising coronavirus numbers, Gov. Doug Ducey has rolled back on the state's reopening plans. He issued an executive order mandating a 30-day closure of bars, nightclubs, gyms, movie theaters, and water parks during a press conference on June 29. He also limited public gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, to no more than 15 people.
"I think we all saw the photos and videos of some of the things that were happening around our state this weekend, and the result of that has been an increase in the spread," Ducey said during the press conference. "So with this targeted approach, we know that we can pump the brakes in Arizona."
As far as the public's laissez-faire attitude toward COVID-19 is concerned, Gallego also blames the mixed messages from the country's top officials, including President Donald Trump, who hosted a large rally in Phoenix on June 23. Gallego said: "President Trump was in my community, chose not to wear a mask, and he's having large events while I am trying to push people that you need to stay at home and that events with more than 10 people are dangerous per the Centers for Disease Control." And for more on how states are faring with the virus, check out These 6 States Are Now in "Critical" COVID-19 Situations, Experts Say.