Automotive auctioneer Barrett-Jackson on Thursday said it plans to hold a special fall auction in Scottsdale, Arizona despite the state’s status as a coronavirus hotspot and its appearance in a White House document as one of 18 “red zone” states where drastic steps are needed to slow to spread of COVID-19.
The three-day auction is set for Oct. 22-24 at WestWorld and is in lieu of the previously scheduled events at Las Vegas and Palm Beach, which were canceled due to the pandemic. It will be broadcast live on the History channel and FYI.
Arizona appeared on a secretive White House document that listed 18 “red zone” states that had more than 100 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, according to a recent report by the Center for Public Integrity. The report, dated July 14, cited Arizona as having 349 cases per 100,000 people, and a positive test rate above 20%. It recommended limiting public gatherings to 10 people.
Barrett-Jackson says it has worked closely with officials from WestWorld to bolster public health protections and safety protocols, including temperature checks for all attendees, requiring the wearing of face masks and arranging seating to accommodate social distancing, which will reduce maximum capacity by 75%. Accordingly, the event will be limited mostly to bidders, consignors and their guests.
“Although we were looking forward to our traditional Las Vegas and Palm Beach auctions this year, after careful consideration we determined that a live auction at WestWorld was an exciting and more feasible alternative,” Chairman and CEO Craig Jackson said in a statement. “At this time, this allows us to better safeguard the health of our guests and team members and gives us the ability to deliver the high-quality experience for which Barrett-Jackson is known.
“A lot of thought went into the new procedures necessary for this to happen, which we will communicate over the coming weeks.”
Though the pandemic struck Arizona later than in many other hotspot states, the state has seen more than 170,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,626 deaths to date, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Its trend line has been declining since peaking in late June, when it recorded 5,439 new confirmed cases, though it also just recorded a single-day high of 172 fatalities. More than half of all confirmed cases to date in Arizona occurred in July alone.
State officials are reporting a 12.7% positive rate on testing, a decline from the figure cited by the White House but still higher than many states. The bulk of the infections — more than 49% of overall cases in Arizona — are among people aged 20 to 44.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, has ordered bars, nightclubs and other businesses to close, though he has only recently come around to endorsing the use of face masks and allowing local officials to mandate their use — another recommendation from the White House report to stem the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, the scaled-back auction has the blessing of Scottsdale’s mayor, W.J. Lane, who says his staff reviewed the plan and will make adjustments to it as needed while they monitor the coronavirus’ spread across the state. WestWorld has also held other limited-scale events with similar precautions since the outbreak began, and it is installing new ultraviolet sanitizing technology similar to systems used in hospitals, thanks for federal CARES Act funding.
Barrett-Jackson said it’s issuing full refunds for the Las Vegas and Palm Beach auctions, while new consignments for Scottsdale are now being accepted. On tap for the fall auction are vehicles including a 2018 Ford GT with fewer than 900 miles on the odometer, an ultra-rare 2012 Lexus LFA with less than 1,000 miles and a 1970 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda that underwent a full restoration in 2018.