Arizona Is 'New National Hotspot' for Coronavirus and It's 'Spreading Like Wildfire,' State Representative Says

Around 4,400 novel coronavirus cases in Arizona were reported in the last three days, bringing its latest confirmed cases to 35,706, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Congressman Greg Stanton stated Sunday in a post on his official Twitter account: "Arizona is the new national hotspot for COVID-19 with more than 4,400 new cases in just the last 72 hours. Per capita, Arizona's infection rate is now more than three times higher than New York state. It's spreading like wildfire."

Over the past 72 hours, the infection rate per capita (per 100,000 people) in Arizona, which has a population of nearly 7.3 million, was reported to be around 60.5, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

New York reported 2,432 new cases in the last 72 hours from June 12 to 14. The state, which has a population of over 19 million, recorded a 72-hour infection rate per capita of 12.5, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Stanton said: "It didn't have to be this way. This escalating crisis is the direct result of poor decision making and failed leadership. Now, more Arizonans are in harm's way and local economies are at greater long-term risk.

"We can turn the ship, but we need to act now," he noted Sunday on his official Twitter account, outlining five steps that should be taken going forward.

Stanton called for masks to be required in public places where social distancing is impossible, providing businesses with reopening guidelines including "how to conduct symptom screenings to keep employees and customers safe," he noted on Twitter.

He also called for expanded testing and quicker turnarounds on the results, noting "delayed test results are a lagging indicator for the seriousness of Arizona's situation."

Stanton also said the state must "urgently prioritize contact tracing" and "require weekly testing for health care workers, nursing home and assisted living facility employees, even if they do not exhibit symptoms," he noted on Twitter.

Arizona is the new national hotspot for COVID-19 with more than 4,400 new cases in just the last 72 hours. Per capita, Arizona’s infection rate is now more than three times higher than New York state. It’s spreading like wildfire.

— Rep. Greg Stanton (@RepGregStanton) June 14, 2020

In a statement issued Thursday, representatives of Arizona's largest health systems representing 80 percent of the health care provided in the state, said: "We would like to assure the public that we have available bed capacity and surge plans are in place to continue to serve the people of Arizona. We are well prepared to manage an increase in patient volume.

"In addition, the utilization of the surge line remains an effective tool in ensuring that patients are evenly distributed among hospitals in order to avoid capacity issues at any one facility. Our surge plans will also create additional capacity for patients if needed. Arizona's network of medical care is strong, stable and prepared," the statement added.

Newsweek has contacted the office of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey for a comment.

The daily case count in Arizona has been on a mostly increasing trend from May 26, the day after Memorial Day.

Last week, a former director of the state's health department, Will Humble, noted Arizona's recent spike in cases was "definitely related" to the state's reopening, citing a rebound in cases seen from May 26.

Coronavirus, Route 66, Kingman, Arizona
A sign on the window of an automobile shop along Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona pictured on May 24, 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to Newsweek, Humble said last week: "The issue here isn't so much when Arizona lifted the stay-at-home order, but how it was done. When the order fully ended on May 15 it wasn't replaced with anything substantive."

At a media briefing earlier this month Ducey acknowledged "We've [Arizona has] seen some growth in cases as of late," which was attributed to increased testing.

However, Humble noted: "The increase in cases is not due to increased testing. It's due to increases in the number of cases in the community."

According to figures posted on the Arizona Department of Health Services website, the percentage of positive COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and positive COVID-19 serology tests have both been mostly increasing from the week ending on May 10 to the week ending on June 7.

Arizona's stay-at-home order expired on May 15. Some venues in the state were allowed to reopen before May 15, including restaurants, gyms, pools, hair and nail salons. Some non-essential retailers also reopened, with restrictions in place.

The novel coronavirus, which was first reported in Wuhan, has spread to more than 7.9 million people across the globe, including over two million in the U.S. Nearly 434,000 have died following infection, while over 3.7 million have reportedly recovered from infection, as of Monday, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The graphics below, provided by Statista, illustrate the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. and the worst-affected countries.

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