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Phoenix mayor says the federal government is 'declaring victory while we're still in crisis mode' as Arizona sees the highest per-capita infection rate in the US

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  • Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said Sunday that she felt the federal government was “declaring victory while we’re still in crisis mode.”
  • Gallego also blamed the significant increase in Arizona’s cases of the novel coronavirus on the decision to reopen businesses in the state “way too early.”
  • Arizona has had the highest per-capita infection rate of any US state over the past seven days, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said Sunday that the state of Arizona opened up too quickly and criticized the federal government’s response as Arizona battles the current highest infection rate per capita in the US.

“We opened way too early in Arizona,” Gallego told Martha Raddatz during a Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week”. “We were one of the last states to go to stay-at-home and one of the first to reemerge. And we reemerged at zero to sixty.”

Gallego, a Democrat in office since 2019, blamed the increase, in part, on “crowded nightclubs handing out free champagne” and not requiring face masks.

“I think when nightclubs were open, it sent the signal that we had, again, defeated COVID and, obviously, that is not the case,” Gallego said.

At the end of June, Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey ordered bars, movie theaters, gyms, and water parks to shut down after they had been previously allowed to reopen, AZ Central reported.

According to data analyzed by the Harvard Global Health Institute, Arizona currently has had the highest per-capita rate of daily new COVID-19 infections over the past seven days with 49.9 people in the state testing positive per every 100,000 people in Arizona.

Gallego added: “Our 20- to 44-year-olds, which is my own demographic, really led the explosion, and we’ve seen such growth in that area. We’re seeing a lot of people go to large family gatherings and infect their family members.”

As Business Insider’s Holly Secon previously reported, young adults are the source of much of the new cases in states with large increases, including Arizona, Florida, and Texas.

According to the Arizona Department of Health, there have been more than 98,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and 1,809 deaths. By far, the most impacted county in Arizona is Maricopa county — home to the city of Phoenix, which is the state capital city — with at least 62,296 reported cases.

On Sunday, the health department reported 3,536 new cases of the novel coronavirus days after it reported its all-time 4,878 new cases on Wednesday. Just shy of 11% of tests administered in Arizona have delivered a positive result since the pandemic reached the state, according to the state data.

Gallego said some people are waiting 8 hours to get tested for the virus

Gallego said the state was struggling to administer COVID-19 tests, and said some people in the state had waited up to eight hours to get tested for the virus. She called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist the state in its testing efforts.

“We were told they’re moving away from that, which feels like they’re declaring victory while we’re still in crisis mode,” she said.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of Arizona had the fourth-highest number of newly reported coronavirus infections over the past week, putting it only behind Florida, California, and Texas.

The Phoenix mayor also pointed toward the president’s messaging on masks and his decision to hold an in-person campaign rally in Phoenix at the end of June as ongoing problems amid the state’s spike.

“President Trump was in my community, chose not to wear a mask, and he’s having large events while I am trying to push people that you need to stay at home and that events with more than 10 people are dangerous per the Centers for Disease Control,” she said on “This Week”.

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