Thursday, December 31, 2020

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2020 at 3:13 PM

The Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Treasury Department announced the second round of Economic Impact Payments are in the process of being distributed to millions of Americans who received a first round of payments last spring.

Individuals are eligible for $600 and married couples who file a joint return will receive $1,200. In addition, citizens could receive an extra $600 for each qualifying child. Dependents over the age of 17 are not eligible for the child payment. Individuals who filed an adjusted gross income of more than $75,000 or married couples who made more than $150,000 in 2019 are ineligible for the payment.

In most cases, funds should begin arriving either through direct deposit, paper check, or a debit card by early January. The IRS began mailing paper checks on Wednesday, Dec. 30 and direct deposits have already arrived for some Americans.

Those who did not receive the first round of payments earlier in the year will still be able to claim it on their upcoming 2020 taxes. IRS representatives recommend taxpayers to review the eligibility criteria to make sure they maximize their benefits. Economic Impact Payments will be referred to as Recovery Rebate Credit on Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR due to being an advance payment of the RRC.

The second round of Economic Impact Payments is funded through the Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, which was approved by lawmakers earlier this week.

To check if your Economic Impact Payment has been processed, check out the Get My Payment tool at IRS.gov.

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2020 at 2:55 PM

Tucson Weekly columnist Brian Smith’s article about the late guitarist Doug Hopkins, co-founder of the Tempe rock band Gin Blossoms, is being turned into a feature film. Smith originally wrote the article for the Detroit Metro Times in 2007, before he and his wife Maggie turned it into a screenplay titled "Lost Horizons." The film is now in pre-production and will be produced by Sarah Platt and Mike Tankel. The director and cast have not yet been selected.

"I’ve been wanting to tell this story in a film for many many years, but it finally came to fruition lately with my wife Maggie as writing partner," Smith said. "I knew Doug really well. He was a good friend, the kind who was never not there. I knew the shy, empathic, totally brilliant, cockeyed and writerly side to him. I loved him dearly. As did many people who knew him. He left a long, long shadow. Really, that love for him was the launching point for the script."

Hopkins co-founded Gin Blossoms in 1987. The band rose to fame after the release of their second studio album, 1992’s New Miserable Experience, which eventually went multi-platinum with singles like "Hey Jealousy" and "Found Out About You." Smith’s original Metro Times article detailed Hopkins' songwriting prowess, as well as his alcoholism, interpersonal struggles, and untimely death.

“The alcoholic side of him is there, and it can be brutal, and it is brutal, but there is also the tender, kind, generous, and absolutely witty and brilliant side to the man that needed to be told,” Smith said. “Also, the guy was a genius at whittling down complicated human truths into a three-minute pop song, such sadnesses beneath the surface. So precious few songwriters, before or since, could do that as well as Doug. That’s truth. Yeah, this all makes his story so hard to tell, and also makes it really layered and strangely beautiful.”

Brian and Maggie have collaborated on multiple projects before. Maggie directed a documentary based on Brian’s Tucson Weekly column “Tucson Salvage,” and they have also started a local press, R&R Press.

"Am I excited about the film in pre-production? Absolutely. Maggie and I are really excited because, for one thing, it is really difficult getting a film made," Smith said. "I am also really nervous because Maggie and I really want it to be accurate to Doug’s heart, to capture the essence of the man’s beauty, and tragedy."

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2020 at 11:59 AM

The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality hand-delivered an abatement order to a northwest-side apartment complex owner for causing a public health nuisance to the complex’s tenants by shutting off the water supply.

The county ordered GR Partners Casas Adobes to restore potable water service within 24 hours of receiving the notice or PDEQ will do it for them and send the property owner the bill.

Residents of the 204-unit Casas Adobes Apartment Homes, located at 6200 N. Oracle Road, have been without running water and “unable to bathe, flush toilets or maintain hand hygiene since” Saturday, Dec. 26, according to the order.



Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2020 at 8:59 AM

With more than 7,718 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases now stands higher than 520,000 as of Thursday, Dec. 31, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 1,085 new cases today, has seen 69,522 of the state’s 520,207 confirmed cases.

A total of 8,864 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 1,064 deaths in Pima County, according to the Dec. 31 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide continues to soar as the virus has begun to spread more rapidly, putting stress on Arizona’s hospitals and surpassing July peaks. ADHS reported that as of Dec. 30, 4,564 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. The summer peak of 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients was set on July 13; that number hit a subsequent low of 468 on Sept. 27.

A total of 2,304 people visited emergency rooms on Dec. 30 with COVID symptoms. That number is down slightly from yesterday's 2020 peak of 2,341.

A total of 1,028 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Dec. 30, down from yesterday's peak of 1,076. The low was 114 on Sept. 22.

One out of every 1,000 Pima County residents has died from COVID-19; Hospitals overwhelmed

Pima County Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen shared troubling details on the accelerated transmission of COVID-19 throughout the county amid a new public health advisory at a virtual press conference Wednesday.



Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2020 at 7:03 AM

WASHINGTON – The numbers can be numbing. And that’s exactly what health officials fear.

More than a half-million Arizonans have contracted COVID-19 and more than 8,700 have died from it so far, according to state data. The disease is surging again, with one week this month seeing an average of 7,770 new cases a day, soaring past the previous high set in July of a seven-day average of 3,482 new cases.

Hospital capacity is being stretched to the breaking point, with COVID-19 patients taking up a record 61% of beds in the state’s intensive care units as of Tuesday, and health care workers struggling under the strain.

But news of the disease, while prominent, does not command the headlines or the attention it did just months ago.

“The phenomenon some call COVID fatigue is real, and it’s dangerous,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, in a late-November video update.



Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2020 at 1:31 AM

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2020 at 3:58 PM

click to enlarge Pima County Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen speaks at a Dec. 30 virtual press conference. - PIMA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Pima County Health Department
Pima County Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen speaks at a Dec. 30 virtual press conference.

Pima County Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen shared troubling details on the accelerated transmission of COVID-19 throughout the county amid a new public health advisory at a virtual press conference Wednesday.

Public health officials expect to see more coronavirus cases in December than the eight months between March and October combined.

Currently, one out of every 1,000 Pima County residents has died from COVID-19.

Amid confirmation of a more contagious strain of COVID-19 that originated in the UK being identified in Colorado, Cullen said Arizona health officials are actively looking for the coronavirus variant and have not found any cases in the state, although “that could change quite rapidly,” she said.

Cullen said the county’s hospital beds and ICU capacity remains “very limited,” and many facilities are relying on the Arizona Surge Line to transfer patients based on their necessary level of care.

This morning, there were five ICU beds and 42 medical surge beds available in Pima County. Meanwhile, more than 80 patients were waiting in emergency rooms for admission, Cullen said.



Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2020 at 9:59 AM

With more than 5,200 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 512,000 as of Wednesday, Dec. 30, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County, which reported 758 new cases today, has seen 68,437 of the state’s 512,489 confirmed cases.

A total of 8,718 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID-19, including 1,039 deaths in Pima County, according to the Dec. 30 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases statewide continues to soar as the virus has begun to spread more rapidly, putting stress on Arizona’s hospitals and surpassing July peaks. ADHS reported that as of Dec. 29, a record 4,526 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. The summer peak of 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients was set on July 13; that number hit a subsequent low of 468 on Sept. 27.

A record number of 2,341people visited emergency rooms on Dec. 29 with COVID symptoms. That number had previously peaked at 2,008 on July 7; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28.

A record number of 1,076 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Dec. 29. The summer’s record number of patients in ICU beds was 970, set on July 13. The subsequent low was 114 on Sept. 22.

Healthcare leaders continue to plead with public to stay home as much as possible as healthcare system is overloaded

The Pima County Health Department shared a number of sobering statistics about COVID-19 this week:

• There is an all-time high of 1,512 medical/surgical beds in use in Pima County.

• Med/Surg bed availability hit an all-time low with 2%, or just 33 beds available in the county.

• On Monday morning there were 96 patients waiting for an inpatient bed, 62 of whom were COVID-19 patients.

• There are 669 hospital patients who are COVID positive.

• ICU beds usage hit an all-time high with 364 ICU beds in use, 198 are COVID-19 patients, the most ever. Despite an increase of 20 ICU beds in the past week, only 2% (9 beds) remain available. Hospitals continue to implement their surge plans to add ICU capacity.

• COVID-19 patients account for 54% of ICU bed and ventilator usage.

• There was a record high of 27 COVID-19 ICU admissions in a single day in the past 24 hours.

• On Christmas Day, County hospitals reported 19 COVID-19 deaths.

The health department is asking residents to stay home and minimize activities that involve contact with people outside of their households, stay physically distanced and practice mask-wearing and frequent sanitization.

“This isn’t just about COVID anymore and whether you think it’s a real problem or not. The patients filling these hospitals are absolutely real and if you have a heart attack, or if you get into a car accident, or your appendix bursts, there is a real possibility that you may not get the timely care you need to save your life if we don’t get control of this virus,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the director of the Pima County Health Department who herself contracted COVID-19 earlier this month. “People are dying yet many of those deaths are preventable if the people of this community stay home, wear their masks and avoid people they don’t live with as much as possible.”

Pima County under curfew

Pima County remains under a mandatory 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in an attempt to combat Southern Arizona's rising number of coronavirus cases.

Penalties for a nonessential business found violating curfew range from having their business permit suspended or revoked.

The mandatory curfew will stay in place until coronavirus infection rates drop below 100 per 100,000 people, according to county officials.

While businesses will now face losing their operating permits if they don't comply with the curfew, it "carries no penalty associated with the individual, as it would be difficult to enforce a curfew against individuals without the cooperation of law enforcement," Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry wrote in the memo regarding the memo.

More details here

Get tested: Pima County has free COVID testing

Pima County offers a number of testing centers around town.

You’ll have a nasal swab test at the Kino Event Center (2805 E. Ajo Way) the Udall Center (7200 E. Tanque Verde Road) and downtown (88 E. Broadway).

The center at the northside Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road, involves a saliva test designed by ASU.

In addition, the Pima County Health Department, Pima Community College and Arizona State University have partnered to create new drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites at three Pima Community College locations. At the drive-thru sites, COVID-19 testing will be offered through spit samples instead of nasal canal swabs. Each site will conduct testing from 9 a.m. to noon, and registration is required in advance. Only patients 5 years or older can be tested.

Schedule an appointment at these or other pop-up sites at pima.gov/covid19testing.

The University of Arizona’s antibody testing has been opened to all Arizonans as the state attempts to get a handle on how many people have been exposed to COVID-19 but were asymptomatic or otherwise did not get a test while they were ill. To sign up for testing, visit https://covid19antibodytesting.arizona.edu/home.

—with additional reporting from Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner, Nicole Ludden and Mike Truelsen

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2020 at 1:00 AM