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COVID-19 Guidelines in Arizona

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 6 months, you likely know of COVID-19 and its dangers. However, you may not be aware of what actions the AZ government is taking against this virus in the form of regulations. Doug Ducey is naturally adjusting said guidelines to fit the situation at the given time, but these are the current rules and restrictions.

The general public is currently just being told to wear masks and socially distance themselves while in public, but many are unsure of exactly what this means. When it comes to masks, maricopa.gov states, “The general public should wear a cloth face covering or mask,” but people under the age of two are not required to wear them or if they have religious, health-related, or other reasons not to. In fact, many businesses are turning away customers if they are not wearing a mask to ensure the safety of their employees and other customers. Naturally however, there are some who are not in favor of this rule in Arizona. April Armen Dariz, a volunteer at a Trump rally in Phoenix in June states “I don’t think it’s a right for others to make you wear one because I don’t live in a communist country.” In addition, Republican State Representative Kelly Townsend tweeted in mid-May, “I have 17 pre-COVID scientific, peer-reviewed studies/references that detail the health risks of prolonged wearing of face masks. Therefore, I will not be wearing one today. Mask-wearers should have nothing to worry about, if they work.” The other guideline that has been given to the public is to socially distance themselves from others, six feet to be precise. These two precautionary measures are intended to protect everyone. COVID-19 spreads through the air, so breathing or sneezing without a mask or enough distance between people would allow the virus to spread at a much faster rate.

The government advises schools and businesses to follow certain rules to protect the masses as well. First, if an employee tests positive, businesses are not required to shut down, but the employee can’t return to work unless they are no longer sick and the company must follow certain disinfectant guidelines given by the CDC. Businesses do not have to tell all of their employees if someone tests positive, but they do have to tell people who were in “close contact” with the infected person. In this case, “close contact” means standing or sitting between six feet for over 10 minutes. Lastly, although businesses are not required to implement precautions, they are told by Maricopa County that they should keep employees apart as much as possible and to keep things clean. Gyms and theaters are still required to be closed at this point unless they fill out an application and have it approved. According to bizjournals.com, “The Ducey administration was ordered by Judge Tim Thomason to create a path for gyms to reopen,” in the form of this application. When these businesses would like to reopen, in order for their application to be approved they must present a plan as to how they will help to control the spread of COVID-19 in their environment. Steve Elliot, the Arizona Department of Health Services communications director, states, “Because each proposal represents a unique business, there is no one size fits all approach when considering individual plans.” On August 15 for example, EOS gyms reopened. Schools, as most people know, are required to stay online until at least September 4. A junior at Thunderbird, Laine Solheim, states, “I can’t wait to go back to school in person!” An anonymous student echos Laine’s sentiment about wanting to return, adding, “If [we] go back to school, I want it to be full time and it should also be late enough that school won’t be shut down again.” Clearly, students want this pandemic to be over so that they can return to business as usual.

As one can see, the government is taking precautions to ensure not only that people stay safe, but also that the economy stays afloat in this troubling time. Although there are still many cases in Arizona, they are slowly but surely going down. In July, there were an average of about 66 deaths per day, but in August the average dropped to roughly 45 each day. Therefore, if everyone complies with the guidelines, life will hopefully be back to normal soon.