By Maria Polletta | Arizona Republic
A modified version of Arizona’s stay-at-home order will remain in effect through May 15, Gov. Doug Ducey announced Wednesday.
At an afternoon press conference with state Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ and Department of Emergency and Military Affairs Director Michael McGuire, the Republican leader he would not allow the statewide directive to expire Thursday night as initially planned.
Ducey also indicated Arizona eventually will see a phased-in approach to reopening the economy.
Ducey issued the stay-at-home order March 31 to slow the spread of COVID-19, helping the state avoid a situation where infections spike, hospitals are overwhelmed and Arizonans die preventable deaths.
The directive generally permits residents to leave their homes only for food, medicine, exercise and other “essential activities,” and requires them to practice social distancing guidelines when in public.
The governor faced intense pressure from all sides in the days leading up to Wednesday’s announcement, as business owners, politicians, medical experts, faith leaders and residents have grown increasingly vocal about the course of action they want him to take.
Polling indicates a strong, bipartisan majority of Americans support restrictions to protect public health during the pandemic and are more concerned about closures being lifted too soon rather than too late. A Tucson-based public health expert told The Arizona Republic that if Arizona goes “right back up the slope” to normal activity, “we risk letting this get out of control.”
But other Arizonans had flooded social media — and, recently, the state Capitol — to argue extending the order would wreak further havoc on local economies. They’ve said the rights of employees and the public “are being trampled,” and the Bill of Rights “has no exceptions for pandemics.”