Ducey says no need for stay-at-home order for Arizonans

Ducey says no need for stay-at-home order for Arizonans

From the Tucson-area coronavirus coverage from January to March: Nearly 1,300 cases in Arizona, stay-at-home order series

Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, with Gov. Doug Ducey at his right, explains the National Guard’s role in helping restock grocery stores. He said troops will help move large quantities of food “that final mile” between warehouses and grocery stores.

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UPDATE: Ducey lists 'essential services' in case he eventually issues stay-at-home order

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey said Friday he has no intent to order Arizonans to stay at home as his counterparts in New York, California and some other states have done.

In his latest briefing, the governor said he sees no reason to go beyond his directive issued late Thursday to shutter bars, gyms and movie theaters in counties where there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19 and to allow only take-out and delivery services by restaurants. That order currently covers nine of the state’s 15 counties.

Ducey also said Friday he has no intention to either expand the restrictions statewide or to add other kinds of businesses where there is close personal contact, such as spas and hair salons, to the list that have to close their doors. He said that’s not necessary.

“I have no desire to shutter something that would not protect public health,” Ducey said.

He acknowledged that previous restrictions he has ordered have changed, sometimes over the course of less than 24 hours. He said there’s a good reason for that.

“Each escalation, declaration and executive order that I have put out has been with the guidance of Dr. Cara Christ (the state health director) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Even without a stay-at-home directive, both the governor and his health director say that’s still their advice, albeit one without enforcement.

“Stay home, especially if you or a loved one have an underlying medical condition or are elderly,” Christ said. “If someone in your household has COVID-19 everyone in the household should stay home until you are recovered.”

Friday’s briefing also provided the first indications of what role the National Guard, called out by Ducey late Thursday, will play in restocking stores. Ducey said the bare shelves have nothing really to do with an insufficient supply but are a direct effect of hoarding.

“There is not a shortage of toilet paper or hand sanitizer or bottled water,” he said. “This has been binge buying. This has been caused by the very real fear that is out there.”

Ducey said there’s no way grocers can keep their shelved stocked at the rate items are being snapped up, but the troops will help.

“We can do big-scale logistics,” said Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, the adjutant general of the Arizona National Guard. He said that will particularly mean moving large quantities of food “that final mile” between warehouses and grocery stores.

Ducey said that’s where the bottleneck is.

“It typically takes two trucks to restock a grocery store,” he said. “Today, in this environment, it’s taking 12 trucks.”

The troops will drive trucks and unload pallets of goods.

McGuire said there may be situations where troops are actually helping not just unload pallets but ensuring that items get onto shelves. “But I can tell you with only 8,000 of us we can’t stock every store in the state,” he said.

More to the point, the general said that’s not what he has in mind for his troops.

“I hope that we are a bridging strategy to have those types of duties filled by community members that are not feeling ill that want to support their community, either go to work for these food companies or come in as volunteers,” McGuire said.

He said the better use of troops would be for things for which they have been trained.

“But we’ll do whatever we need to do to first bridge this gap.”

The general said the initial call up is only about 200 military members. He could not provide an estimate of how many eventually would be involved in the operation. “Over the weekend, we’re going to be adding to that,” he said.

But McGuire made it clear that there are Guard troops doing other jobs in the private sector that are better off where they are.

“If I pull in doctors, nurses, medics that are already working in our local hospitals, it’s a zero-sum game,” he said.

Groceries aside, one issue is medical supplies, particularly ventilators that may be needed for hospitals to treat people with respiratory problems.

Christ said the state has anywhere from 1,500 to 1,800 beds in intensive-care units. She said her department is trying to find out where there are ventilators, not only at hospitals but out-patient surgical facilities and training centers.

“And we are putting in an additional request for federal ventilators,” Christ said.

Ducey said Arizonans need to recognize that the situation created by the outbreak is not going to go away any time soon.

“We don’t have any illusions about this fight,” he said. “We are in this for the long haul. I think it’s important that people begin to think of this as a marathon and not a sprint.”

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