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Unpublished COVID-19 report shows Phoenix as potential hotspot just as state prepares to reopen

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TUCSON - An unreleased report from the White House COVID-19 Task Force obtained by NBC News shows Phoenix as a city with a potential spike in coronavirus cases.

Governor Doug Ducey is opening the state back up Saturday, but one Southern Arizona doctor argues its too soon.

“When Doug Ducey forces the state to open prematurely, I will see more people in the hospital,” hospitalist Dr. Matt Heinz said.

Heinz is an emergency room doctor in Tucson. He was in the Obama Administration during the Ebola Crisis.

He worries the Ducey Administration is opening up things too fast.

The CDC put together guidelines to help governors and local leaders reopen state economies. Arizona is currently in phase one.

 Will Humble is the executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association. He says during this initial phase, there shouldn’t be large crowds gathering and everyone should keep social distancing.

“Phase one still says 10 or fewer and six feet apart,” Humble said. “It’s not a free for all.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Ducey said he would let the stay-at-home order expire Friday.

“This is a green light to continue going forward on the way out of this pandemic. This is not a green light to speed,” Ducey said.

As Arizona is testing more for the virus, NBC News obtained an unreleased White House Covid-19 Task Force report. It shows Phoenix as a city to watch with new coronavirus cases on the rise. The report indicates Phoenix had 1525 new cases of the virus between April 30 and May 7.

The Associated Press reports the CDC outlined more restrictive guidelines for state and local leaders to follow but according to the AP, the White House shelved the more restrictive plan.

“If the public health experts are putting out guidelines that are being redacted or edited or tossed under the rug, that’s not acceptable and puts everybody at risk,” Heinz said.

“It would be a shame when we’re so close to making a demonstrable difference if people changed their behavior and rolled the clock back,” Humble said.

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Eric Fink

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