Arizona, Nevada halt reopening plans; N.Y. to require air-conditioning filters in malls

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday announced the state would close bars, gyms and water parks, in addition to moving back the start of in-person school instruction and other methods to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the state has experienced a surge in cases. Screen capture/Doug Ducey/Twitter

June 30 (UPI) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday issued an executive order shutting down bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks in the state as it has experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases when businesses reopened.

Ducey said the order would take effect at 8 p.m. on Monday and will pause operations for those businesses for one month.

“This will help relieve stress on our healthcare system and give time for new transmissions to slow,” he said.

Additionally, the order prohibits gatherings of more than 50 people ahead of the 4th of July weekend, delays the start of in-person school instruction to Aug. 17 and pauses the issuing of special-event licenses until July 27.

“We must be clear-eyed. The next few weeks will be hard. But these steps combined with stepped-up compliance with public health guidance can make a difference, and we’re grateful to Arizonans for their cooperation,” Ducey said.

Arizona has reported a total of 74,533 positive coronavirus cases, including 625 new cases on Monday, and 1,588 deaths related to the virus.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a directive extending Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan until the end of July as the state has reported a total of 17,894 positive cases and 504 deaths. Data shows that 37 percent of the cases have come in the last two weeks.

“If statewide trends do not improve or get worse, I will not hesitate to take any action necessary to protect the public, including re-instituting previous restrictions,” Sisolak wrote on Twitter. “I am currently reviewing all the data to determine potential next steps.”

Also Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced malls in the state that seek to reopen under the state’s Phase 3 status must have air-conditioning filters that can help reduce air particulates that could spread the coronavirus.

“There are air filtration devices, air filters, that can actually help with the COVID virus,” Cuomo said during a briefing.

“For all large mall reopenings, we’re going to make this mandatory,” Cuomo said. He also recommended that all offices and businesses replace air conditioning filtration systems with those capable of screening out the virus.

The COVID-19 virus has a diameter of 0.1 microns, and certain High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters and others with a much smaller pass-through size, around 0.01 microns, have been shown to filter out virus particles, according to a U.S. National Air and Space Administration study.

The state will decide on Wednesday whether to slow down the reopening of indoor dining in New York City as part of Phase 3, Cuomo said.

In neighboring New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy put a hold on indoor dining indefinitely until health officials can understand trending positive case numbers.

New York’s upstate regions, now in Phase 4, will be permitted to hold social gatherings of up to 50 people. Indoor religious gatherings will be allowed at up to 33 percent of the site’s capacity, the state said.

Cuomo used his briefing to criticize the federal government’s response to the pandemic.

“The White House has been in denial about the coronavirus from the get-go,” Cuomo said. The federal response has “just been wrong,” by rushing reopening so that in 34 states the number of positive cases has been increasing, he said.

“This was not a smart policy to rush reopening. It did not help the economy, it was the opposite,” he said. Cuomo urged President Donald Trump to issue a nationwide order to wear face masks when in public.

Cuomo and governors from New Jersey and Connecticut last week issued a joint travel advisory Wednesday, requiring visitors from nine states with spiking COVID-19 cases to quarantine for 14 days. New daily confirmed positive cases dropped to 68 as of June 28, according to the New York State Department of Health. The state has seen a total of 211,569 cases, with 54,689 hospitalizations and 22,470 confirmed and probable deaths.


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