Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images
Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

Trump’s Arizona visit spurred the state’s uptick in COVID-19 cases

President Donald Trump is visiting Phoenix on June 23, following a visit to celebrate his border wall’s milestone in Yuma, Arizona.


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President Donald Trump is making his first trip to the US-Mexico border in 2020, amid Arizona’s ongoing surge of coronavirus cases. 

Back in May, things in Arizona looked a little different. Apart from the Navajo Nation, counties were on track to curb the spread of coronavirus in the state. But then Trump announced he would be visiting Arizona. This prompted Governor Ducey to quicken the pace of reopening the state.

Hours before Trump was scheduled to arrive, Ducey suddenly announced he was reopening parts of the state’s economy — allowing businesses like barbershops and salons to reopen.

Since then, Arizona has become one of the nation's coronavirus hotspots. As of Tuesday, Arizona has recorded over 58,000 cases and 1,384 deaths — a doubling of cases in the last 15 days.

Today, Arizona recorded its largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases ahead of Trump’s visit. Still, crowds gathered in Yuma, Arizona and Phoenix, braving the heat to await the President.


Two very different kinds of lines: COVID testing

Over the weekend, Arizona faced several complications for those seeking to be tested, with many waiting hours or not being able to be tested at all. Hospitals were forced to turn away asymptomatic people, and others reported delays in test results.

Rural, deprioritized regions of Arizona are seeing overwhelming amounts of people trying to get tested with few tests to offer. 

On Saturday, nearly a thousand people are reported to have waited up to 13 hours for testing in Maryvale, Arizona. People had no access to water, food, or bathrooms as temperatures soared over 100 degrees as “testing blitz” attendees waited in their cars for the test.

Maryvale is 75% Hispanic, with wait times appearing to be far longer than others conducted across Phoenix. Additionally, the ZIP codes in which Maryvale is located contain some of the highest rates of confirmed infections in Phoenix, reported AZCentral. 

According to the governor’s office, testing has increased over 40% in the past two weeks.

But with Trump’s recent tweets regarding the slowing of coronavirus testing, efforts in disadvantaged districts may continue to worsen.


The Rally

President Trump arrived in Yuma for a tour of the border wall, ahead of an indoor rally in Phoenix. His visit marks completion of 200 miles of border wall along the southwest border. 

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) issued a statement in response to Trump’s visit to his district.

“Arizonans have a front-row seat to the failures of the Trump Administration,” he said.

“From his failure to get Arizonans the resources we need to fight and contain the COVID-19 outbreak to the rampant destruction of the environment and border communities to construct his useless vanity wall, his presidency is an unmitigated disaster for Arizona families. Now, as COVID-19 spreads among the crews constructing his border wall and threatens to impact small border communities, Trump stops in Yuma for applause.”

Hours before Trump was set to arrive in Phoenix, an image of the day’s line outside of the church where his rally will take place caused controversy because of the lack of coronavirus protocols.

It displayed hoards of supporters waiting in close-quarters as much as 8 hours before Trump was scheduled to arrive. It was posted Tuesday morning by the Arizona Republican Party Twitter page: 

“I am horrified by this photo and the danger it presents to Arizonans,” Kyrsten Sinema tweeted in reaction to the photo. “The coronavirus is real and today is our highest infection rate to date. Everyone please wear a mask and stay 6 feet away from others. It’ll save lives.”


Why Arizona?

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump only won by three percentage points. Since then he has not expanded his support base in the state.

This is why Arizona voters now find themselves at the center of the 2020 campaign for Trump. With polls showing little discrepancy between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the right is worried.

Arizona has the power to disrupt the political power in the country in the Fall. This is why Trump is willing to sacrifice the health of thousands in order to deliver his message.


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