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Maricopa County within 1 week of hitting COVID-19 business benchmarks

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

PHOENIX – Metro Phoenix businesses forced to close under state order are on track to start reopening en masse in one week.

Maricopa County still meets just one of the three COVID-19 benchmarks required for those businesses to begin reopening, according to Thursday’s weekly data dashboard update, but the Valley has entered the moderate community spread range for the latest week in the other two.

The benchmarks are part of the Arizona Department of Health Services’ reopening procedures for businesses that were closed under Gov. Doug Ducey’s June 29 executive order — indoor gyms, bars/nightclubs, indoor theaters, water parks and tubing operators.

Those businesses can start reopening – under capacity restrictions and while following other health requirements that vary by industry — in counties in the moderate range in all three benchmarks for at least the most recent two weeks of metrics.

Once the metrics are hit, businesses can reopen after submitting an online attestation form.

The moderate spread range is defined as 10-100 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, a PCR test positive percentage rate of 5-10% and a rate of hospital visits for COVID-like illness of 5-10%.

Further reopening will be permitted when spread improves to the minimal level for at least two weeks, defined as fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 residents, a positive test rate below 5% and a hospital COVID-like illness rate below 5%.

The benchmark data reported each week is at least 12 days old to account for lags in reporting, ensuring that assessments are based on accurate statistics. Therefore, Thursday’s report covers the weeks starting July 26 and Aug. 2 (through Aug. 8).

Maricopa County met the opening standard for hospital COVID-like illness rate last week and is now one week inside the moderate range for cases per 100,000 — now down to 50 — and testing positivity percentage — now 8.8%. The county is actually in the minimal range for COVID-like illness at just 2.1%.

Four of Arizona’s 15 counties have entered the moderate spread range, with Greenlee and Coconino hitting the business benchmarks for the first time to join Yavapai and Cochise.

Community spread is considered substantial, meaning the impacted businesses must remain closed, until all three benchmarks are met.

However, the state also allows businesses in areas not meeting the benchmarks to file an appeal. A business can submit an individualized plan it created with measures that are stricter than the state requirements for when benchmarks would be met, and it can reopen if the state health department approves the plan.

The state has received hundreds of applications and has approved dozens of the plans.

Here’s a county-by-county look at the benchmark status after the latest weekly update:

Apache — Substantial community spread, meeting two benchmarks in moderate range or better: COVID-like illness and percent positivity. On pace to meet all three next week.

Cochise — Moderate community spread or better for all three benchmarks. Indoor fitness centers, bars and nightclubs providing dine-in services, indoor theaters, water parks and tubing facilities allowed to reopen in accordance with state requirements.

Coconino — Moderate community spread or better for all three benchmarks. Indoor fitness centers, bars and nightclubs providing dine-in services, indoor theaters, water parks and tubing facilities allowed to reopen in accordance with state requirements.

Gila — Substantial community spread, meeting one benchmark in moderate range or better: COVID-like illness. At least two weeks until meeting all three.

Graham — Substantial community spread, meeting one benchmark in moderate range or better: COVID-like illness. At least two weeks until meeting all three.

Greenlee — Moderate community spread or better for all three benchmarks. Indoor fitness centers, bars and nightclubs providing dine-in services, indoor theaters, water parks and tubing facilities allowed to reopen in accordance with state requirements.

La Paz — Substantial community spread, meeting two benchmarks in moderate range or better: COVID-like illness and cases per 100,000. On pace to meet all three next week.

Maricopa — Substantial community spread, meeting one benchmark in moderate range or better: COVID-like illness. On pace to meet all three next week.

Mohave — Substantial community spread, meeting two benchmark in moderate range or better: COVID-like illness and cases per 100,000. At least two weeks until meeting all three.

Navajo — Substantial community spread, meeting two benchmarks in moderate range or better: COVID-like illness and percent positivity. On pace to meet all three next week.

Pima — Substantial community spread, meeting two benchmarks in moderate range or better: COVID-like illness and percent positivity. On pace to meet all three next week.

Pinal — Substantial community spread, meeting two benchmarks in moderate range or better: COVID-like illness and cases per 100,000. On pace to meet all three next week.

Santa Cruz — Substantial community spread, meeting one benchmark in moderate range or better: COVID-like illness. At least two weeks until meeting all three.

Yavapai — Moderate community spread or better for all three benchmarks. Indoor fitness centers, bars and nightclubs providing dine-in services, indoor theaters, water parks and tubing facilities allowed to reopen in accordance with state requirements.

Yuma — Substantial community spread, meeting one benchmark in moderate range or better: COVID-like illness. At least two weeks until meeting all three.

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For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.


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