Gov. Doug Ducey Thursday activated the Arizona National Guard and took other measures designed to help the state deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, including eliminating elective surgeries.
“These latest actions are based on the facts and on data, and come after careful consultation with public health experts from every county in Arizona, our hospitals, local elected officials, and private sector partners," Ducey said in a news release.
Calling it an "all-in effort," Ducey said, "We are determined to take all necessary precautions to address this outbreak and will continue to act with urgency to protect public health.”
Ducey said the the National Guard will assist grocery stores and food banks with re-stocking shelves in the face of heightened demand.
According to the state, Arizona grocery stores are facing unprecedented demand, and this assistance will help ensure the continuation of food supply. In addition, some food banks are also struggling with adequate volunteer levels to serve those in need.
Safford Town Manager Horatio Skeete applauded the governor's "quick actions," saying he's doing what's best for the state.
"At this point, I think it's something he should definitely do," Skeete said. "With their training, they're more equipped to handle this kind of thing."
Asked if he thought some residents might be alarmed by the activation, Skeete said no.
"We all know someone who is in the National Guard or are related to someone in the Guard," he said.
By stopping elective surgeries, the governor hopes to free up medical resources and maintain the capacity for hospitals and providers to continue offering vital services.
According to Ducey's news release his actions will help keep critical personal protective equipment available for the fight against COVID-19.
The governor is also requiring restaurants in Arizona counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases to provide dine-out options only, starting Friday. All bars in those counties will also close. This applies to movie theaters and gyms, too.
The Governor’s directive allows manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to buy back unopened products from restaurants, bars and clubs.
Lastly, the governor is waiving ADOT requirements for seniors and commercial drivers.
His order delays expiration dates on Arizona driver licenses so residents over 65 don't need to visit Motor Vehicle Division offices to renew their driver licenses during the public health emergency.
This protects seniors and vulnerable Arizonans from community spread and supports efforts to social distance.
The policy also applies to commercial vehicle drivers — ensuring that drivers stay on the road not in-line at MVDs.