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Many Businesses Can Reopen As Maricopa, Other Counties Reach COVID-19 Benchmark

Many businesses that had been closed in the Phoenix area are now allowed to begin reopening. Maricopa County on Thursday reached the moderate level in benchmarks set by the state in response to the pandemic. 

Bars, gyms, water parks and theaters were  forced to close in late June when COVID-19 infections were soaring in the state. Earlier this month, the state  announced reopening benchmarks based on levels of the virus by population size, percentages of hospital visits for COVID-19, and test positivity rates. Virus transmission in each of the state's 15 counties is rated substantial, moderate or minimal based on those benchmarks. 

Maricopa and eight other counties have reached the moderate transmission level. Greenlee County has reached the minimal level. 

"This is a credit to all of the things Arizonans have done to reduce the spread of COVID-19," Arizona Department of Health Services director, Dr. Cara Christ,  wrote in a blog post Thursday. "We’ve worn masks, physically distanced, washed our hands, and so much more. In short, we’ve made smart decisions for the common good. It’s important that we keep that up." 

Reopened businesses in counties rated moderate will have to follow virus mitigation requirements such as limiting capacity. Some bars and nightclubs in moderate-level counties will not be able to reopen until test positivity rates fall lower. The state has an  online system and a hotline to report businesses that aren’t complying with health measures. The COVID-19 Compliance Hotline is 1-844-410-2157.

→  Get The Latest News On COVID-19 In Arizona 

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.