Arizona lifts capacity limits; 19% vaccinated


FILE – In this May 17, 2020 file photo Chandler Fashion Center Mall welcomes back patrons with many social distancing guidelines, in Chandler, Ariz. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has lifted capacity restrictions at gyms, restaurants, and other businesses. Ducey cited lower COVID-19 cases and increased vaccination as he eases up on the pandemic restrictions that have upended life for nearly a year. Ducey announced the changes Friday, March 5, 2021, citing declining COVID-19 cases and the rollout of the vaccine. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX — One day after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey lifted capacity restrictions at restaurants, gyms and other businesses, the state reported 1,735 confirmed coronavirus cases.

Arizona doesn’t have a statewide mask mandate. With 54 more confirmed deaths on Saturday, the totals rose to 825,119 cases and 16,323 deaths.

The number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations dipped below 1,000 for the first time in four months. On Friday, 966 COVID-19 patients occupied inpatient beds, down from 1,043 Thursday and the Jan. 11 pandemic high of 5,082.

Nearly 19% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of vaccine and about half of those people are fully vaccinated. The Health System Alliance of Arizona, a group representing major hospital systems, opposes Ducey’s move to lift capacity restrictions.

“Now is not the time to relax our mitigation efforts; we must stay the course to ensure that our vaccination efforts can outpace the spread of the virus,” the group says.

Ducey’s order didn’t lift the state’s requirements for social distancing and masking requirements for businesses nor affect local governments’ mask mandates.

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