- Courtesy Pima County
It's been six months since March 9, when local officials including Tucson Mayor Regina Romero held a press conference, warning that the virus had arrived and residents of Pima County should prepare for a bad flu season and frequently wash their hands.
Within days, Romero had a much more urgent message: Something very bad was in the air. She said the City Council would no longer meet in person and advised people to limit their gatherings. More would follow days later, when Romero ordered the shutdown of bars, gyms and other places where more than 10 people congregate. Restaurants were limited to take out and delivery.
With authors concerned about traveling, the Tucson Festival of Books was canceled, starting an avalanche of announcements: concerts, festivals, plays, performances—everything went dark.
By the end of March, following Romero's lead, Gov. Doug Ducey shut down "non-essential" businesses and told Arizonans to stay home unless they had urgent business. Schools were closed, with teachers scrambling to adapt their lessons to the internet. College students finished the remainder of the University of Arizona's spring semester online.
The statewide stay-at-home order kept the virus from spreading too quickly and overwhelming the health care system. But in mid-May, Ducey lifted the order, telling Arizonans at a press conference that "we are clearly on the other side of this pandemic."
Ducey couldn't have been more wrong. Just as public-health experts feared, many Arizonans threw big Memorial Day parties, filled up nightclubs, headed down the Salt River on tubing adventures and otherwise returned to their pre-pandemic lifestyles.