Arizona is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation crisis. Coronavirus infection and death rates in our state are rapidly rising. We broke the record for most cases reported in a day three times this week, and have recorded the four highest 24-hour reporting periods ever in just the past five days.

While some states are seeing only a handful of new cases a day, Arizona’s numbers have increased for months and are climbing faster than anywhere else in the country. The human toll has been devastating. We’ve needlessly lost more than 1,200 Arizonans.

This didn’t have to happen. And without a change of course, our rate of infection will continue to increase exponentially.

We can turn the tide, but it will take swift, decisive action. This week, I released five recommendations that can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.

1. Require masks in public places where social distancing isn’t possible, including grocery stores, pharmacies, shops and public transit. The scientific evidence continues to grow—requiring masks is the easiest and most effective way to slow the virus’s spread. Governor Ducey gave mayors the power to make and enforce mask mandates for their cities—and many including Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa plan to do just that. Without a statewide mandate in place, it’s up to mayors to make this common-sense call to keep residents safe and healthy.

2. Provide clear, actionable guidance to small businesses as they re-open, so they can keep their employees and customers safe. Employers deserve detailed guidelines from public health experts about best operating practices so they can continue doing business without putting anyone at risk. That includes guidelines for conducting their own symptom screenings, including checking temperatures of customers and employees. After a month of vague instructions, businesses now have clearer guidance to keep everyone safe. While we are told that bad actors will be held accountable, we must ensure our state follows through and makes Arizona a good example for the rest of the country.

3. Increase testing and turn around results faster. Right now, it can take a week or more to return test results. That means test results are a significantly lagging indicator for the seriousness of Arizona’s situation. For public health experts to get a clear and accurate picture of community transmission we still need more tests available on a wider scale, regardless of present symptoms.

Visit the Arizona Department of Health’s website for testing information and locations.

4. Urgently prioritize contact tracing, and immediately start scaling up and training a large workforce. Contact tracing works to track the spread of the virus and notify those who’ve come into contact with an infected person so they can take proper precautions. In Maricopa County alone, health workers need to make about 1,800 contacts a day. We’re falling far short. That’s why I called on the governor to immediately deploy members of Arizona’s National Guard to support county efforts to contact trace. Yesterday, he made the right choice to assign 300 Guard members to the task. That’s likely not enough help to meet Arizona’s acute needs, but it’s a step in the right direction. Lives are on the line, and we can’t afford to wait longer to make contact tracing a top priority.

5. Require weekly testing of nursing home and assisted living facility employees and health care workers. Coronavirus has devastated nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Arizona should test health care workers at these facilities weekly, even if they do not exhibit symptoms. This is an important step to stop the spread and protect our most vulnerable residents. It’s encouraging to know that the Arizona Department of Health Services has tested almost 15,000 staff and residents of long-term care facilities, but we need to mandate weekly tests to protect our elders and those who care for them.

We can change course and save lives, but we need our leaders to continue to listen to experts and health officials and put public safety first.

I urge you to continue to follow CDC guidelines and explore my office’s COVID-19 Resource Guide. My office also has a team of caseworkers ready to help if you have questions about navigating federal resources. If you need help for your small business, have questions about unemployment benefits, or want to check the status of your federal stimulus check, please call my office at (602) 956-2463.