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UArizona COVID-19 Modeling Team recommends three-week Arizona shutdown to avoid 'catastrophe'

Hospitals in Arizona are inevitably going to face a crisis in the coming weeks, but precautions can be taken to limit "needless illness and deaths."

ARIZONA, USA — The COVID-19 Modeling Team from the University of Arizona is recommending multiple sweeping measures and precautions in the state in order to limit the inevitable "hospital crisis" due to the pandemic.

"If action is not immediately taken, then it risks a catastrophe on a scale of the worst natural disaster the state has ever experienced," the team said in a letter obtained by 12 News. "It would be akin to facing a major forest fire without evacuation orders."

The letter was sent from the team to Steven Bailey, the Chief of the Bureau of Public Health Statistics at the Arizona Department of Health Services. It listed the recommendations including a three-week statewide shelter-in-place order.

The recommended order would last from Dec. 1 to Dec. 22, according to the letter, and would include the closures of indoor dining and bars.

"If a shelter-in-place order were put in place today, we could hold the limit of new cases below 6200 cases/day which is twice the current rate," the team said in the letter. "Without it, cases will quickly surpass this amount and cause even more disruption."

The team also recommended the state to pass emergency COVID-19 economic relief measures for small businesses and families who would be affected by the closures. A focus on food insecurity and preventions to evictions and foreclosures should also be made.

The team's last recommendation was a state-wide mask mandate with provisions to ensure enforcement, including fines on non-compliant businesses and people. 

If the state-wide mandate can't be enacted, the team said that county and municipal leaders should be granted greater authority to enact their own shelter-in-place orders.

You can read the full letter from the UArizona COVID-19 Modeling Team here.