Since Arizona didn’t experience a surge of COVID-19 cases as it initially anticipated, Gov. Doug Ducey, announced that outpatient centers and hospitals can resume surgeries from May 1st.

However, it’s still unclear whether the numbers will lift more of the restrictions, thanks to the low number of confirmed cases.

“We do not want to lose the ground that we gained”, Ducey said that there’s also a chance of lifting statewide stay-at-home order on April 30th.

At the moment, the directive allowed Arizona residents to leave their homes in order to buy groceries, food, medicine, to exercise and do other ‘essential activities’. Furthermore, the directive also requires citizens to practice social distancing in public.

Ducey said that he would like to get back to where we were, but that he wants to do it in a safe and healthy way. The one thing that we don’t want to do is to decide too early and end up in a situation where we have to take the decision back.

Order on Surgeries

The Governor presented graphs showing that the state hospitals did not come close to running out of hospital beds, beds in intensive care units OR ventilators, hence the announcement to resume elective surgeries. Other chars showed that both the number of flu-like and COVID-19-like cases were dropping.

According to Ducey “Things have changed a lot in the last 45 days. While there are still unknowns in front of us, we know much more about Arizona’s preparedness.”

Before resuming with elective procedures, medical outpatient centers and hospitals first must be approved by the state Department of Health Services. This was outlined in the new elective surgery order. In order to receive approval, the medical facilities have to meet certain requirements such as:

  • They must possess personal protective equipment for staff for at least 14 days
  • They must maintain sufficient number of staff and bed capacity
  • They must conduct COVID-19 screen on employees, patients and visitors
  • Must develop discharge plans for patients that are being transferred to nursing facilities, which include COVID-19 testing
  • They must conduct ‘enhanced’ cleaning for waiting areas

Events after April 30th

Gov. Ducey was aware that on April 30th, his stay-at-home order is expiring and that this Friday is May 1st.

Ducey said that there are three options regarding the executive order:

  • The first option would be to let it expire
  • The second is to extend it in the current form
  • Third option would be to modify it with various changes and improvements, based on the current situation

Gov. Ducey promised an update on things for this week, with no clear indication on when that will happen.

Politicians, business owners, leaders of religious groups and the public all have pressured the governor for a much cleaner picture on what’s to come.

According to some research and polls, the public is more concerned about lifting the restrictions too soon rather than too late. Also the limited number of testing in Arizona has some residents worried about premature opening. On the other hand, there are protests that demand the officials to remove the restrictions.

You can hear calls from people saying ‘Turn it back on’, like the situation is a light switch. However, Ducey said that he viewed the public health decisions and the economic impact, more as a light dimmer.

‘Going forward, each decision will be first and foremost guided by public health. They are going to be step by step and incremental. They will be gradual and they will be responsible as we restore confidence in our economy at the appropriate and safe time” said Ducey.