Trump is about to hold a 3,000-person rally in a city where experts say people are already acting like the coronavirus doesn't exist
President Donald Trump (left) and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey disembark from Air Force One when they arrive in Phoenix, Arizona on June 23, 2020.
SAUL LOEB / AFP
President Donald Trump came to a rally in Phoenix, Arizona this afternoon, despite increasing coronavirus infections in the state.
There are no plans to require masks at the Dream City Church rally tonight, which can accommodate up to 3,000 people.
Experts fear that the rally could be a superspreader event. "It's a pretty nervous moment in Arizona right now," emergency doctor Murtaza Akhter told Insider.
Jimmy Flores from Scottsdale told ABC 15. There are still many locals who are "A" personalities who put pressure on others to go out and enjoy life. "
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Arizona reported a daily high of 3,591 new coronavirus cases on Monday, just a day before President Donald Trump's arrival at a Students for Trump rally in Phoenix.
The state has been struggling with a steady increase in infections since the beginning of June, two weeks after the lifting orders were lifted on May 15. Republican governor Doug Ducey continued to avoid asking for face masks, and attributed the rising numbers to increased testing until Wednesday.
Last week, under pressure from the Mayors of Arizona - and an open letter from 900 medical service providers - Ducey reversed the course and said local officials could prescribe masks and other protective measures.
President Trump speaks to reporters as he leaves for his rally in Phoenix, Arizona on June 23, 2020.
But its U-turn is probably too late to reverse the trend. And there are no plans to have a mandatory mask requirement at Trump's rally tonight in the Dream City Church, which can accommodate up to 3,000 attendees.
The surge in infections, the lack of masks, and the arrival of thousands of Trump supporters have worried doctors in Arizona that the rally could become a superspreader event.
Like Ducey, Trump has said the increasing numbers are the result of further testing, but Murtaza Akhter, an emergency doctor at Phoenix's Valleywise Health Medical Center, says this is a misunderstanding.
"Yes, tests cause more positive cases, but that doesn't mean that the percentage of people who are COVID positive will necessarily increase," Akhter told Insider. "Widespread testing should actually lead to more negative cases because it includes asymptomatic and symptomatic patients."
The trend in Arizona is actually going in the opposite direction.
"The numbers are rising," said Akhter. "We do more tests, but we have a lot more positive cases proportionally, and that's very worrying about the spread of COVID across the community."
Akhtar describes the past week in the emergency room as "terrible".
"It was worse than I expected and there is a lot more volume than I saw a few weeks ago," he said.
And Akhter doesn't see a patient type. "Whether you're male or female, young or old, Caucasian or Spanish, everyone was literally a patient of mine," he said.
Due to the increased number of cases, there is a real risk that resources will become scarce. According to the Arizona Department of Health, beds and ventilators for COVID-19 patients are used in record numbers in hospitals across the Phoenix-Scottsdale region.
"It's a pretty nervous moment in Arizona right now," said Akhtar.
Despite increasing numbers and scarcer resources, the seriousness of the situation does not seem to decrease for many.
30-year-old Jimmy Flores was hospitalized with COVID-19 after going bar-bouncing in Scottsdale two weeks ago.
"It was a joke for us, man," Flores said to ABC 15. "I just said 'yes, I won't understand.'"
Since Memorial Day, many young people have been filling bars in the city's busy old town. According to the State Department of Health, Arizonians are the largest demographic group of coronaviruses between the ages of 20 and 44.
"You will still see these types of people who are 'A' personalities who put pressure on others to go out and enjoy life or not to worry, blah, blah, blah," said Flores.
Part of the problem was inconsistent messaging, in which the mayors rose up against the governor and the president. Akhtar says he has no patience for it.
"Regardless of what the government says or what politics are, it's a terrible idea to say I'm fed up, I'll gather, celebrate, and be with people."
Benjamin Galaz, owner of BK Carne Asada and hot dogs in Tuscon, saw firsthand how the Arizonians dismissed the risks.
"The past week has been crazy," he said to Insider. We saw groups of eight or more people who were not socially distant and only 20% wore masks. People pretended the virus didn't exist. "
Galaz was nervous, especially for his employees. They have to wear masks and pass temperature tests, but he felt that he couldn't risk their safety. Galaz voluntarily closed the restaurant on Thursday despite continuing the pick-up service.
"This is not about sales," he said. "It's about community. If you have someone you know who dies, you realize that this is not a joke and it is serious."
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