Arizona’s Thriving Nightlife Has Made the State a New Coronavirus Hot Spot

After a month of post-lockdown partying, the state is contending with a spike in COVID-19 cases

drinking in a crowded bar
Drinking in a crowded bar is not exactly social distancing at its best.
John Rensten/Getty Images

Stay-at-home orders in Arizona have been lifted since May 15, and in the month since, the state has quickly become a new coronavirus hot spot in the U.S.

The state recorded 7,121 new cases between May 31 and June 6, representing a 54-percent increase from the week before, the LA Times reported. The state has also seen a recent spike in hospitalizations, with 1,400 people hospitalized on Friday compared to just 755 a month earlier.

According to the Times, part of the problem may be the state’s thriving nightlife, which has seen partiers packing nightclubs and bars since the stay-at-home orders were lifted. To make matters worse, nightlife enthusiasts have reportedly been forgoing masks and social-distancing practices, while the state’s lax regulations have also attracted partiers from nearby states with tighter restrictions like California.

“When I see packed nightclubs, I’m deeply concerned,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego told the Times. “It sends this message that we’re through this — that we’ve defeated it.”

While it’s clear that Arizona, one of 22 US states that have seen a recent spike in the number of new daily coronavirus cases, has not defeated the virus, Governor Doug Ducey has resisted reinstating stay-at-home orders.

“This virus is not going away,” he said at a news conference last week. “This virus is something we need to learn to live with.”

Critics who say the state opened too early have argued that bars and clubs are especially unsafe environments due to the combination of alcohol and the emphasis on close social interaction.

As Sean Badger, the owner of the recently reopened Bar Smith in Phoenix, put it, “Drunk people don’t conduct themselves responsibly.”

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