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How A Court Ruling On Gyms Could Open The Floodgates For Other Arizona Businesses To Reopen

Gov. Doug Ducey and President Donald Trump exchanged praise during a meeting in the Oval Office Aug. 5 — at a time when both officials have faced criticism over their handling of the pandemic.

Despite that criticism — and the political implications as we now head into the General Election — Trump and Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, framed Ducey and Arizona as an example for others to follow.

“We’ve demonstrated now that you can keep a state open and retail open if you do these five common-sense pieces," Birx said. "And it’s created a safe — saved the hospitals and saved a lot of Arizonans. And we’ve taken that model, sir, all the way across the South.”

The five common-sense steps Birx referenced, like wearing masks in public spaces, offered Arizona an alternative to another stay-at-home order, Ducey said.

Ducey has said himself that his order earlier this year did lead to a significant decline in daily new cases, a positive trend that was reversed when he chose to allow bars and restaurants to reopen.

New cases peaked on June 28 when more than 5,400 were reported on that day alone. And while we are no longer seeing daily cases quite so high, the total cases and deaths continue to rise.

On Aug. 6, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported another 1,444 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to more than 183,000. The department also reported an additional 70 deaths due to COVID-19, bringing the total number of Arizonans who have been lost during the pandemic to more than 4,000.

But Ducey insisted he and his administration have taken additional steps that are paying off.

“We were in the unhappy but responsible position of dispersing large crowds. So bars and nightclubs and gyms all closed temporarily," Ducey said. "But upon putting those steps out there, we’ve seen improvement every week, week over week, for four weeks. We’re going to keep our guard up. We’re going to stay vigilant. But there’s a real path forward and a common-sense approach that we can apply in Arizona not only around saving lives, but also safely and successfully getting our kids back to school at the appropriate time.”

Ducey may have counted the closing of gyms among the successful steps he’s taken, but he did not mention at the White House an Aug. 4 court ruling that said he may have violated due process rights in doing so.

The ruling said that gyms should be given the ability to show they can operate safely.

The Show spoke with Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services to talk about the ruling and what it means for the governor’s plan.

Arizona Coronavirus Cases, Deaths

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.