The governor of Arizona ordered the closure of bars, nightclubs and water parks for at least a month beginning on Monday night — a dramatic over-face as coronavirus cases increase in the Sunbelt.

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey uses hand sanitizer and wears a face mask prior to speaking about the latest coronavirus data at a news conference Thursday in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has also directed public schools to postpone class beginning at least until 17 Aug. Many districts had expected to begin the school year at the end of July or early August. He may be extending his orders.

“We can’t be under any illusion that this virus is going to go away on its own,” Ducey said.

Arizona emerged in mid-May from stay-at – home order, but infections have started spiking ever since. It recorded 3,858 more confirmed cases of coronavirus on Sunday, the most for the state in a single day and the seventh time in recent days that the daily toll reached the 3,000 mark.

Although Ducey has encouraged Arizonans to keep their distance from each other in public, he has declined to issue a statewide order to wear masks and some cities have resisted calls to require them to demand masks until recently.

When the stay-at – home order was lifted, most Arizona bars and nightclubs reopened, and scenes of packed clubs and bars became popular. Pools are also being shuttered at hotels and motels and municipal pools, as are gyms, movie theaters and a common tubing spot on the Salt River east of the Phoenix metro station.

(AP Photo/Matt York)

Arizona’s change comes as many southern and western states are seeing a new increase in infections as businesses reopen and hot weather draws people. Places like Texas, Florida, and California are also backtracking, in some cases closing beaches, and bars.

It also comes less than a week after President Donald Trump toured the border between Arizona and Mexico, and held a rally in Phoenix where few people wear masks.

If the closure order is not extended and businesses are allowed to reopen at the end of July, local health officials and law enforcement can enforce strict social distance and limit how many people can enter.

Private pools may remain open at apartment complexes but they must restrict the number of parties to no more than 10 individuals.

The governor is also re-establishing a ban on more than 50 people meeting, and the state liquor board is eliminating the issuance of special-use alcohol licences.

Ducey declared a month ago that schools would reopen after the summer break, just as the state was seeing an increase in metrics used to track the virus’ progression. He said at the time that he made the decision to give the parents and administrators time to prepare ahead.

Last Friday, the state told hospitals to enforce their plans for critical care — a change that suggests hospitals are at or near capacity and are likely to overcapacitate.

Under directives given early in the state’s pandemic response, hospitals were expected to prepare to add 50 percent to their capacity when moving to crisis care rates. Additional daily and intensive care beds are being added — and some patients will get reduced care levels or be discharged earlier than they would usually be.

If a hospital goes beyond capacity, all non-emergency surgeries will have to be terminated.

Hospitals were at 84 percent capacity on Sunday in the state. It is uncertain when it is expected that hospitals will hit 100%.

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