White House officials visit Arizona to address shortage of healthcare workers amongst other concerns
This morning, members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force met with officials in Arizona to address the rising trend in COVID-19 cases across the state and shortage of healthcare workers needed to combat the pandemic. Arizona saw a few single-day records today with 4,878 new confirmed cases and 88 new confirmed deaths.
On Wednesday, July 1, the state said that 28.3% of residents tested over the past 24 hours were positive for COVID-19, the worst of any state in the nation, and the highest ever reported by Arizona.
Gov. Doug Ducey and other Arizona officials told Vice President Mike Pence that Arizona has a shortage of healthcare workers and would need an additional 500 to combat the rising cases across the state. Pence said the federal government would be “moving out on that very quickly.”
“We’ve already responded with 62 medical personnel arrived this week in Tucson, but the governor conveyed to us an additional request of another 500 personnel," Pence said.
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The mayors of Phoenix and Tucson recently issued executive orders mandating the use of masks in public gatherings after permission to do so from the governor on June 17. A study published in Health Affairs on June 16 compared the rate of growth of COVID-19 before and after mask mandates in 15 states and the District of Columbia between April 8 and May 15.
The study found that mandates for wearing masks did lead to a slowdown in the daily COVID-19 growth rate, a trend that got even more pronounced with time. During the first five days after a mandate, the daily growth rate slowed by 0.9%, and at three weeks, the daily growth rate of COVID-19 slowed by an entire 2%.
"Clear communication coming from his health team that made it clear that wearing a mask will change the spread of this virus," said Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, who is currently also in Phoenix.
For the first time ever, Arizona has reached 89% of its intensive care unit bed capacity with a total of 1,495 beds in use, per the Arizona Department of Health Services. Ducey recently announced more restrictions in Arizona; he paused the operations of bars, gyms, indoor movie theaters, water parks and tubing. The order was effective at 8 p.m. on Monday, June 29, and will apply for at least 30 days.
Arizona is currently one of the hotspots for COVID-19 and as cases surge not only in the state but around the country, these next few weeks will be critical for slowing the spread of the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the U.S. could see 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day, with surges that could put “the entire country at risk.”
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