PHOENIX (AP) — Some Arizona hospitals halted elective surgeries Thursday and a Scottsdale nightclub faces what appears to be the first misdemeanor charge of failure to enforce social distancing polices as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases kept rising after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey's decision to lift stay-home restrictions in May.

Ducey made clear no additional openings are planned while confirmed cases increase, saying “Arizona is on pause.”

Health officials have attributed the rising number of reported cases to both increased testing and community spread of the disease. The state Department of Health Services reported 3,056 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday, the fourth day in a week with daily increases over 3,000.

The numbers “continue to go in the wrong direction,” Ducey said Thursday. “Our time of getting hit is right now: June, July and August.”

“We can expect our numbers will be worse next week and the week after,” the governor added.

Arizona has confirmed 63,030 cases with 1,490 deaths, including 27 reported Thursday. The department reported that a record 2,453 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, including 611 in intensive care beds and a record 415 on ventilators.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

At a news conference, the governor pushed back against questions about his position on the use of masks and his attendance at President Donald Trump's campaign event held indoors this week at a Phoenix church. Many of the 3,000 people who attended did not wear face coverings. Ducey noted he did wear a mask.

Meanwhile, University of Arizona President Robert Robbins said the increases were alarming and that officials would monitor conditions before deciding if students will return to the Tucson campus in August.

Robbins said he'd feel comfortable reopening Aug. 24 if face coverings, social distancing and staying at home flatten the virus' growth curve.

In Tempe, Arizona State University President Michael Crow told faculty members and other employees in an email Wednesday the university remains on track for students to return to ASU campuses in late August.

Scottsdale police Thursday announced the case against the nightclub Riot House, saying officers saw customers and employees “not practicing physical distancing, not wearing face coverings and not complying with their plan.”

Riot Hospitality Group, which operates Riot House among other bars and restaurants, did not immediately respond to a voice message seeking comment. It was among eight bars and restaurants put on notice by state liquor licensing officials for not following social distancing guidelines.

It appeared to be the first such case against an Arizona business during the pandemic on accusations of failure to follow its own social distancing rules.

Dignity Health is halting elective surgeries starting Saturday at St. Joseph’s hospital near downtown Phoenix and the smaller Westgate hospital in the West Valley, spokeswoman Carmelle Malkovich said. At hospitals in Chandler and Gilbert, officials are closely watching planned elective surgeries that might result in a hospitalization, she said.

An official with Honor Health, which operates hospitals in Scottsdale and North Phoenix, said elective surgeries are continuing.

But while Banner Health is continuing elective surgeries, it may pause them later, said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, the hospital system’s chief clinical officer.

“We might need to do a little bit more some weeks if we have capacity, and other weeks, we’re going to have to do a little bit less,” Bessel said in a statement. “It’s going to be a constant managing of the elective surgeries.”

Yavapai Regional Medical Center spokesman said the Prescott hospital was restricting elective procedures and evaluating them daily and not planning to accept transfers of patients from hospitals in metro Phoenix or elsewhere in Arizona, The Daily Courier reported.

The state on March 19 restricted elective surgeries to save hospital capacity and personal protective equipment for use in treating COVID-19 patients, but on May 1 allowed the procedures to resume as officials said hospitals had enough capacity and the ability to add more beds.

Ducey last week allowed counties and municipalities to require people to wear face coverings in public, and many have done so, including in metro Phoenix and Tucson.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday he is not considering a travel ban or quarantine order for people coming from neighboring Arizona or other states seeing higher infection rates than California. Newsom noted California has sent 14 million masks to Arizona to help fight the spread of the virus through a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.


Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix contributed to this report.


This story has been corrected to show that the bar facing misdemeanor charges was among eight put on notice by state liquor licensing authorities.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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(11) comments


Governor Ducey made clear no additional openings are planned while confirmed cases increase, saying “Arizona is on pause", really!! Arizona is not on pause, the Governor, our County Supervisors and our dear, dear Mayor are on "pause". What does it take to come out of the closet and MANDATE guidelines for people who make poor choices when left to their own vices!


shut - The governor, our mayor and the city council are all on pause but the covid-19 isn't... Face the fact, these politicians have all put tRUMP's reelection efforts above the health and safety of the citizens they've been elected to serve and protect.


Arizona is in far worse shape than we have been led to believe even though what they are telling us is bad enough.

Utilizing the Arizona Department of Health Services data at their website;

On March 26th, 2020: Arizona had 5610 total Inpatient Beds available with 3815 of those beds in use. This was a 68% usage of available beds reported.

Since then additional hospital beds and facilities have been created in anticipation of the additional needs due to the pandemic, approximately 2,150 beds.

As of June 25th, 2020 (3 months later) Arizona has 7760 total Inpatient Beds available with 6674 of those beds in use. This is an 86% usage of available beds reported. That is 1,064 patients above the available hospital beds that we had on March 26th! It's a good thing the additional 2,150 beds were added.

Almost a doubling of hospital bed usage and this is despite a sharp drop in elective surgeries being performed!

This means that On March 26th Arizona had 1,795 hospital beds available to be used and on June 25th only 1,086 beds are available to handle the increasing patient load. The problem is so big that the state is moving patients out of some areas and putting them in hospitals here in Havasu and Kingman out of necessity. Of course that means that our local resources will not be available for us if and when we need them. It also means a greater risk to our healthcare professionals.

Don't kid yourself, this is a public health crisis with real consequences for our community.


Folks, this town is like nothing ever happened, a free for all, for sure. I would not go into a bar right now if my life depended on it...oh yeah it does!! These young people love flirting with fire.....Good luck with that.


I need to ask, why isn't the LHCPD monitoring local bars for social distancing compliance? I've seen plenty of pictures on Facebook showing the crowds recently in bars here in Lake Havasu. Are they planning on making sure that social distancing requirements are maintained during the 4th of July celebrations at the local nightclubs?


Are you kidding? That would impede business and limit the number of dollars coming into the bars. It's all about money. Money, money, money! That's what it's all about. That's all the people in power care about. That's why Arizona opened before they should have. Trump said that we needed to open up so that he can put the economy on his campaign resume and AZ leaders went all-in.

The leadership doesn't care about your health or well being. The leadership only cares about money and what makes them look good during their campaign.


Escapee - You're correct, Covid-Cal would never risk the profits at the London Bridge Resort that he's general manager of...


I would like to see a City Council agenda item/public hearing that would allow locals to tell elected officials what they want to see happen here to protect this community from COVID. I don't think they have the courage. It's always about getting re-elected.


Well that is not a bad idea Snakes6951. You can of course go the the next council meeting and register to speak before the council as I have done many times. They do listen when presented with information in a respectful manner. That of course doesn't mean they will take any action based on your comments but they might if enough citizens were to speak out. But it is also my GUESS that at least some of our council members and our Mayor do at times review the comments made in the News-Herald. And of course if you mention their name it is a common courtesy to provide that individual with a copy of what you have written. The cities website contains the email addresses of our Mayor and the council members as well as many other city officials.

But remember; Lake Havasu City is a tourism community and its very existence depends on people showing up to spend money here. That makes us more vulnerable than for example a community whose economy might be based on something like manufacturing. If we didn't have tourists coming to town our community might look quite a bit different than it does today.

But there is a whole lot more we COULD be doing and I have published a couple of postings about the value of "Far UVC" lighting. We can't control the behavior of everyone who comes to town but we can certainly do a better job of protecting our own citizens.

"Far UVC" lighting kills viruses in just a few seconds of exposure to the ultraviolet light and has been determined to be safe for use around people. It also sanitizes the surfaces we touch and kills the airborne viruses floating around in the air when large numbers of people get together. It is like being outside in the sunshine which kills the virus but you never get a sunburn. But "Far UVC" lighting is a very specific wavelength of light and not a whole lot of companies are currently manufacturing it. But mass production is coming. When it does, we need to be ready to encourage every business to install it in every restaurant, bar. clothing store, supermarket, big box store and in our homes or anywhere where more than just a few people gather. The Covis-19 virus is not going to go away anytime soon and the lawsuits are already starting to fly against companies that are not doing everything they can to protect their customers. I am currently working on a posting for our local business community with some ideas of how we can implement the use "Far UVC" lighting. But in the meantime here is a link with information about "Far UVC" lighting you might enjoy.

We can win the war against this virus and save hundreds of lives if we all work together using every tool at our disposal.


Snakes- The council never makes any comments after speakers are finished at the podium. It is a one-way street, record the comments, remain cool and non committal. The council has more important things on their agenda, a city employee salary study, balancing the budget, property tax increases and promoting the fireworks displays coming on the 4th. They don't have no stinkin' time for resident health issues, dare not hamper the city making all this "blood " money and the Mayor, the Mayor, he is a fiddlin' while the city is a burnin'! Heck the California boaters are coming from a state with 206,000 infected and counting. They just want to follow-up on the Larry Vaughn of LHC and his 'invite to "stay and play", no crowd control, no masks, no social distancing . . . . Life is good!


Cali Governor not considering travel ban from neighboring Arizonans....DUH....kinda hard to when you been exporting your diseased trash here for 3 months!!!!

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