Arizona is latest state to order new lockdown as ‘brutal’ coronavirus spike forces bars and gyms to close – The Sun

ARIZONA is joining the growing tide of states enforcing new lockdowns as the “brutal” coronavirus spike forces more bars, movie theaters and gyms to close.

It’s a huge backflip for Governor Doug Ducey, who ended a stay-home order in mid-May and had allowed most businesses to reopen.

In a desperate bid to reverse the trend of Covid-19 rampaging through Arizona, Ducey on Monday signed an Executive Order to prohibit large gatherings of more than 50 people.

He also ordered a ban on issuing new special event licenses and paused the operations of bars, gyms, movie theaters, waterparks and tubing rentals.

The temporary closure of these businesses took effect from 8pm June 29, and is effective for one month.

Ducey delayed the start of public schools for in-person learning until at least August 17, to help save lives.

Schools will be able to conduct distance learning should they choose before then. 

"Our expectation is that next week our numbers will be worse," the sombre-looking leader said at an afternoon news conference.

Ducey described the coronavirus infection spike as "brutal".

Hospitals statewide are filling up with patients, some critically ill. 

Arizona – a state of more than seven million people – had more than 70,000 confirmed cases as of Saturday, up from just over 20,000 on June 1.

Thousands more infections are being reported each day, and more than 1,535 people have died.

The measure takes the state one step further in the battle against the killer bug, after Ducey on June 18 allowed cities and counties to require masks in public – but didn’t issue a statewide order.

An intensive care nurse in metro Phoenix said she cries when she thinks about all the people who have died from the virus in her hospital.

Angela Muzzy, a nurse with 31 years experience, said: “We’re caring for physicians who have contracted this, we’re caring for mothers.

"Last week we withdrew life support on a 48-year-old mother and I stood out there with her 17-year-old son as she passed away."

Muzzy is a clinical nurse specialist at southern Arizona’s Tucson Medical Center, where all 20 of 36 ICU beds dedicated to Covid-19 patients are full.

Dr Lisa Goldberg, director of the Tucson's emergency department, said: “This is not a sprint, this is a marathon. In fact it’s an ultra-marathon."

Arizona's actions follow steps taken by California, Texas and Florida – which ordered the closure of all of their recently reopened bars and beaches on Friday.

California and Texas both marked record spikes in new Covid-19 infections on Monday, a Reuters tally showed, as Los Angeles reported an alarming one-day surge in America's second-largest city that put it over 100,000 cases.

Beaches in Florida's Broward County and Palm Beach County will not open for the July 3-5 holiday weekend, officials said on Sunday, dashing residents' hopes to celebrate Independence Day there.

Miami-Dade County has also announced beach closures for the holiday weekend.

AMC, the largest US movie theater chain, said on Monday it was pushing back the reopening of its theaters from July 15 to July 30.

Los Angeles has become a new epicenter in the pandemic as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surge there despite California Governor Gavin Newsom's strict orders requiring bars to close and residents to wear masks in nearly all public spaces.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a "hard pause" on when movie theaters, theme parks and other entertainment venues can reopen. 

Los Angeles County said its beaches will be closed for the Independence Day weekend and fireworks displays will be banned.

In June, 22 US states reported record increases in new cases, often multiple times, including Alaska, Arkansas, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Utah.

The New York Times reported on Monday that 43 per cent of US deaths from Covid-19 were linked to nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The paper cited its own tracking database.

Health Secretary Alex Azar warned that "the window is closing" for the country to get the pandemic under control, as the US tops the world's Covid-19 death tally, surpassing 128,000 fatalities.

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