All Arizona counties as of Thursday met the benchmarks for reopening businesses, including indoor gyms and fitness centers, bars serving food and movie theaters, that were shut down because of COVID-19.

The Arizona Department of Health Services, which gave the announcement Thursday morning, said the milestone was a reflection of the “continuing decline of COVID-19’s community spread across Arizona.”

As of Thursday, identified coronavirus cases in Arizona were at 219,212 and known deaths were at 5,674.

The number of patients hospitalized statewide for known or suspected COVID-19 was at 620 on Wednesday, continuing an uptick from 560 inpatients on Tuesday, 540 on Monday and 468 on Sunday. Inpatient numbers look to be possibly plateauing and now increasing slightly, but more time is needed to point to a trend. 

During the peak of Arizona’s surge in July, the number of hospitalized patients suspected or confirmed to have the virus exceeded 3,000.

In order to reopen, businesses have to submit an online attestation stating they are in compliance with public health protocols and guidelines including occupancy limits, a mask requirement and steps to prevent groups from congregating.

Patrons enter past a “Welcome Back” sign during the first day of reopening at Sandbar Mexican Grill in Chandler on Aug. 27, 2020. (Photo: Patrick Breen/The Republic)

The form must then be posted in the business where customers can see it, according to the department.

In a statement included with the Thursday announcement, ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ attributed the milestone to Arizonans making choices to prevent the virus from spreading, though she said the generally improving numbers and hospital statistics would only continue to move in a positive direction if Arizonans kept adhering to public health protocols.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s June 27 executive order paused reopening for specific businesses determined to have a high risk of spreading the coronavirus, which included indoor gyms and fitness centers, bars and nightclubs, waterparks and tubing, and movie theaters. It also limited indoor and outdoor gatherings to no more than 50 people.

Arizona Republic reporter Alison Steinbach contributed to this report.

Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8529.  Follow her on Twitter @brieannafrank

Support local journalism.Subscribe to azcentral today.

Read or Share this story: