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Ducey orders Nat'l Guard to stock Az stores, closes bars & dine-in restaurants

Governor halts elective surgeries, loosens drivers-license regs

The Arizona National Guard will be stocking shelves in grocery stores and food banks, activated by Gov. Doug Ducey, who also ordered that bars in counties with COVID-19 cases be closed, and restaurants halt dine-in service.

Bars shuttered, restaurants takeout/delivery only

Ducey issued orders on Thursday afternoon to close all bars in counties that have seen confirmed cases of coronavirus. Currently, that includes Pima County, as well as Maricopa, Pinal, Graham, Coconino and Navajo counties.

Restaurants in the covered counties can only offer takeout/delivery food, with no dine-in service allowed.

Movie theatres and gyms are also to close in the affected counties under Ducey's order.

The closure order takes effect at the "close of business" on Friday.

To mitigate some of the financial burdens of the policy, Ducey ordered that restaurants affected be allowed to deliver alcohol along with food.

National Guard to stock shelves

The state's National Guard has been activated, tasked with helping grocery stores and food banks with re-stocking shelves in the face of heightened demand.

Panic-buying and hoarding have depleted the shelves in many stores, which are having trouble keeping up with demand. Those bare shelves have been prompting some to purchase items they don't immediately need, continuing the cycle.

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"This assistance will help ensure the continuation of food supply," a news release from Ducey's office said. "Food banks are also struggling with adequate volunteer levels to serve those in need."

Elective surgeries canceled

All elective surgeries in Arizona are being halted to free up capacity and "help keep critical personal protective equipment (PPE) available for the fight against COVID-19."

Easing drivers license renewals

Drivers with licenses expiring on their 65th birthday, the normal expiration date in the state, will not have to visit a Motor Vehicle Division office to renew their license during the public health emergency, the Republican governor ordered.

"This protects seniors and vulnerable Arizonans from community spread and supports efforts to social distance," the release said.

That policy also applies to commercial vehicle drivers — "ensuring that drivers stay on the road not in line at MVDs."

"We remain focused in the state of Arizona on proactively limiting the spread of COVID-19," said Governor Ducey. "These latest actions are based on the facts and on data, and come after careful consultation with public health experts from every county in Arizona, our hospitals, local elected officials, and private sector partners. They reflect guidance from the CDC and the latest recommendations from our Department of Health Services, while going even further to bolster our efforts with additional manpower and resources. This is an all-in effort. We are determined to take all necessary precautions to address this outbreak and will continue to act with urgency to protect public health."

44 coronavirus cases in Arizona, 7 in Pima County

Forty-four Arizonans have now tested postive for COVID-19 as the pandemic continues Thursday and the number of people being tested in the state increases.

The number of known cases grew overnight, up from 28, as more tests are being run after weeks of limited access.

There are now 44 total cases diagnosed in the state, with officials expecting many more to be found. New cases were confirmed in Pima County on Thursday morning, bringing the total here to 7.

Just 331 people have been tested by the Arizona Public Health Laboratory, while private labs coming online are not reporting the total number of tests to state officials. Prior to Tuesday, the state lab had tested 221 patients suspected of carrying the virus. The state lab has now ruled out 175 people with negative tests.

Statewide, there have been 44 positive results, with 130 pending tests at the state lab, as of Tuesday morning.

Sunday, just 183 people had been tested, with 12 positive cases and 50 pending tests.

One of the Pima County cases is a patient at the Tucson VA hospital, who was diagnosed on March 14 and is still be treated in isolation by the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System.

Each of the Pima County patients has been older than 50, with no link identified between them, officials said.

The two new cases announced Thursday are:

  • A female in her 50s who is hospitalized
  • A male in his 50s who is isolating and not hospitalized

The earlier cases are:

  • A male in his 80s who has recovered
  • A male in his 50s who is hospitalized
  • A male in his 70s who is hospitalized
  • A male in his 60s who is hospitalized
  • A female in her 60s who is isolating and not hospitalized
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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Ducey during a Tuesday press conference in Tucson.