Severity: Warning Alert

Transportation: Most counties in Arizona, US, classified as having moderate COVID-19 transmission as of Sept. 18. Certain restrictions remain in place.

Alert Begins 18 Sep 2020 08:02 PM UTC
Alert Expires 25 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Arizona (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions

As of Sept. 18, 13 of Arizona's 15 counties are classified at the "yellow" level under the state's three-tier color-coded coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tracking and assessment system, indicating the affected locations are experiencing moderate community disease transmission. Gila, La Paz, and Yuma counties have transitioned to the "yellow" level joining the following counties:


  • Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Yavapai


The yellow classification is assigned to counties having between 10 and 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and between 5-10 percent test positivity rate for two consecutive weeks. In these counties, nightclubs and bars that do not offer dining services must remain closed; however, indoor gyms and fitness centers may operate at 25-percent capacity, while restaurants and bars offering indoor dining, indoor theaters, and water parks may operate at 50-percent capacity. Such businesses located in jurisdictions that have progressed to the yellow-level benchmarks must apply to the state government for permission to reopen; applications must include a plan showing that the establishment can meet or exceed social distancing, sanitization, and other requirements aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19.

Only Graham county remains at the "red" level, indicating that it continues to have substantial community transmission, i.e. more than 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and 10-percent test positivity rate over two consecutive weeks. In counties designated as red, indoor gyms and fitness centers, restaurants and bars offering indoor dining, nightclubs, indoor theaters, and water parks must remain closed. Other local restrictions may also apply.

Greenley is the only county to remain at the "green" level, which indicates minimal community disease transmission (fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and less than 5-percent test positivity rate over two consecutive weeks). At the "green" level, gyms and fitness centers, indoor dining at restaurants, and indoor theaters may operate at 50-percent capacity. Nightclubs and bars can operate at 50-percent capacity only once the test positivity rate goes below three percent.

Statewide, other restrictions remain in place. Organized events of more than 50 people are banned, even if social distancing measures are in place. Officials have also suspended the issuance of licenses for special events. Pools can remain open, but gatherings of more than 10 people in or around pools are prohibited. Retail stores and personal care businesses can continue operating, albeit following health and safety guidelines, which include ensuring compliance with social distancing measures, enhancing sanitation procedures, and providing the necessary protective equipment to employees. Essential businesses and services that have not been subject to disease-related closures include those in healthcare, essential infrastructure, food, government, media, security, transport, and financial industries.

State authorities have also authorized local officials to impose certain restrictions - such as protective face covering requirements, among other things - based on local disease activity. Moreover, tribal nations located within the boundaries of Arizona have implemented their own restrictions and response plans, which may differ from state and county directives.

Transport and business disruptions remain likely. Authorities will keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing the remaining measures. Officials could amend the order on short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
Arizona's current status appears to represent an important trend toward improvement in the state's COVID-19 response. As of mid-August, 12 of Arizona's 15 counties were classified as experiencing substantial disease activity ("red" level), with only three having moderate community transmission ("yellow" level). No counties were at the minimal ("green") community transmission level at that time.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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