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Gov. Ducey updates COVID-19 response

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PHOENIX (KVOA) - On Thursday afternoon, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said hospitalizations and ICU beds in use are down statewide compared to several weeks prior, but the governor maintained this is no time for a victory lap.

As kids, parents and their teachers get ready to start the school year remotely, Gov. Ducey argues Arizona’s school reopening plan, one that will be guided by benchmarks from the state health department is designed to be flexible.

The governor said some kids will not be back on campus at school until there’s a vaccine. However, he said other families need options.

“There are parents that don’t have a choice because their child needs to go somewhere on the first day of school and there will be an option for those parents,” Gov. Ducey said. “This plan was put together with superintendents from across the state to serve the needs of parents and children of each background.”

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ says a task force is now working to decide how and when families can once again visit loved ones in long term care facilities. The pandemic halted most visits months ago.

“They’ll identify what steps those facilities can take to help the residents and their love ones maintain contact because we know how important that is to families and residents,” Christ said.

Unemployment benefits of $600 a week under the federal Cares Act are set to run out Friday.

Arizona’s unemployment assistance is $240 per week, the second lowest station in the nation behind Mississippi.

Gov. Ducey said Congress must act.

“We have made the difficult decisions at the state level and we don’t have the ability to print money,” Gov. Ducey said. “If I had any advice for Congress it would be to turn around, order sandwiches in, stay the weekend and figure this out.”