Virus Surges in Arizona but the Rodeo Goes On

Since the governor began permitting local jurisdictions to set limits stricter than the state’s last month, a patchwork of rules has emerged, as have clashes over them.

Maricopa County passed regulations requiring face coverings in public. The staff at Antique Sugar, a vintage clothing boutique in Phoenix, got so much abuse about the mask requirement that the shop erected a signboard outside: “We’ll be happy to debate the efficacy of masks with you when this is all over and you come in to sell your dead grandmother’s clothes.”

At an upscale golf course development outside Scottsdale, a woman rebuffed a barista who told her masks were required and turned down the mask he was offering. “It’s people your age who are more the problem,” she said, noting the rise in cases among young people.

In the earliest months of the pandemic, Mr. Ducey took modest steps that the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry applauded as “just right” but that some mayors and Democratic leaders decried as too halting. Public schools were initially closed for two weeks, a term later extended. Bars, gyms, theaters and dine-in restaurant services at first closed only in counties with confirmed coronavirus cases.

On March 23, with stay-at-home orders planned across the nation, Mr. Ducey declared Arizona, which had far fewer cases than the Northeast, “not there yet.” His executive order listed businesses that would not be required to close even in the event of further restrictions, including salons and spas, golf courses, payday lenders and firearms dealers.

“My first reaction was, ‘So what’s closed?’” said Wendy Smith-Reeve, who was Arizona’s director of emergency management at the time.

Ms. Smith-Reeve quit a few days later, and in an interview offered a cutting assessment of the governor’s early handling of the virus. She described a piecemeal response that ignored the state’s emergency management plan and overlooked people harmed by the virus, including Arizona prison guards and inmates. Mr. Ducey imposed a statewide stay-at-home order on March 31, later extending the order to May 15, despite angry protests from some who called for reopening of businesses. But on May 4, the day before Mr. Trump traveled to Phoenix to tour a Honeywell mask plant, Mr. Ducey announced that he would accelerate the state’s phased reopening.

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