Planet Fitness gym
Planet Fitness. File photo by Michelle Chance

Maricopa businesses will have to remain closed for now as Pinal County missed a key benchmark in its efforts to reach a moderate level of community transmission of coronavirus.

Pinal failed to meet the benchmark for number of cases by a single case. During the week of Aug. 2, the county had 101 cases per 100,000 residents, one too many to satisfy the benchmark, even though the following week it met the mark with 41 cases per 100,000 residents.

The county hit two other two-week benchmarks for businesses – positivity rates and coronavirus-related hospital visits.

It was expected that Pinal would be among the counties, including Maricopa and Pima, with a moderate level of community transmission when the most recent statistics were released Thursday morning. Instead its level is still considered “substantial.”

The three necessary benchmarks for the moderate level for business reopening are between 10 and 100 cases per 100,000 population, a positivity rate between 5% and 10% and COVID-like illness-related hospital visits between 5% and 10%. Benchmarks have to be reached for two consecutive weeks.

Eight counties – Apache, Cochise, Coconino, La Paz, Maricopa, Navajo, Pima and Yavapai – have attained a moderate transmission level, according to a blog post by Cara Christ, M.D., director of the state Department of Health Services. Most counties that have yet to reach that level are moving in the right direction, she wrote.


“This is a credit to all of the things Arizonans have done to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Christ wrote. “We’ve worn masks, physically distanced, washed our hands, and so much more. In short, we’ve made smart decisions for the common good. It’s important that we keep that up.”

Once cleared to begin reopening, businesses that do not comply with mitigation requirements will be subject to strict enforcement. The department said it will continue to partner with local authorities, county health departments and other state agencies to ensure compliance and protect the health of customers and employees.


“We need your help too,” Christ wrote about enforcement of compliance. “If you believe a business isn’t following these requirements, which were established for the safety of customers, employees, and the broader public, you can share your concerns so local and state officials can follow up as needed.

The health department said there are multiple ways to file a complaint, including:

The state surpassed 200,000 cases of the virus on Thursday, with 680 new coronavirus cases and 33 new deaths, according to the health department’s dashboard.

Pinal County reported 188 new cases for a total of 9,435 cases. The death toll is 180, with no new deaths reported Thursday.

In the 85138 and 85139 zip codes, 1,185 cases have been reported.