By Terri Jo Neff |
After more than two years, Arizona is finally out from under the COVID-19 Declaration of Emergency ordered by Gov. Doug Ducey on March 11, 2020.
“Today I am terminating the state’s COVID-19 State of Emergency. Thanks to the hard work of many — health care workers, businesses, public and private sector employees — COVID-19 is no longer an emergency in Arizona,” Ducey said Wednesday of his action which takes effect immediately.
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) reports that suspected COVID-19 cases now represent less than 1.5 percent of emergency room visits and hospital admissions. Ducey noted that while COVID-19 is not gone, the availability of the vaccine and other measures has allowed Arizonans to be better positioned to manage and mitigate it.
“COVID-19 challenged us in ways we never could’ve imagined. No corner of our state – no corner of our country or the world – was spared,” he said. “But we met that challenge head on by prioritizing lives, livelihoods and individual liberties. The time is right to move forward.”
ADHS’s website shows 29,268 death in Arizona attributed to COVID-19 since the pandemic started in 2020. Less than 400 COVID deaths were reported across the state in the last week.
Dr. Richard Carmona, who is serving as Ducey’s special advisor for public health preparedness, expressed confidence Wednesday that Arizona is prepared to address an expected future increase in cases due to virus mutations.
“We now have the experience and tools in place to address what may be to come while public health continues doing what we do best: infectious disease surveillance, prevention, and control,” Carmona said.
The termination of the public health state of emergency does not mean the end to various tracking of COVID-19 cases. According to ADHS, information about immunizations, deaths, hospitalizations, and lab results will continue to be gathered.
Ducey’s announcement allows each of the state’s 15 counties to continue any emergency declarations they currently have in place. The same is true for any cities and towns.
In response, the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors formally ended the county’s own emergency declaration from March 2020. That won’t stop the county from expending millions of dollars of American Rescue Plan Act funds to address the ongoing economic impact COVID-19 has had on Maricopa County residents, businesses, and schools.