Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Your Southern AZ Coronavirus PM Roundup: 29 Now Dead Statewide, Confirmed Cases Hit 1,413; It's April 1 and the Rent Is Due for Struggling Restaurants; UA/PAG Want Your Ideas for a COVID-19 Testing Booth; Loft Is Streaming 'Plan 9 From Outer Space'

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 5:00 PM

click to enlarge San Rafael Valley sunset - JONATHAN HOFFMAN
  • Jonathan Hoffman
  • San Rafael Valley sunset
Here are the stories we've been following today:

• Pima County had 217 of the state's 1,431 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the morning report from the Arizona Department of Health Services. A total of 29 people have died in Arizona from COVID-19, including 10 in Pima County.

• It's April 1 and the rent is due for local restaurants that have been hammered by the COVID-19 outbreak.

• The UA and Pima Association of Governments is accepting your ideas of how to build an inexpensive, sterile and portable COVID-19 testing booth.

UA economics professor Price Fishback says with the federal relief package, at least workers will get a significant boost to their unemployment checks in Arizona, so there's some hope the economy will have a chance to bounce back after this outbreak ends.

Via ProPublica: Taxpayers paid millions to design a low-cost ventilator in case of a pandemic and now the company is selling a version of it overseas; a major medical company just slashed benefits for doctors and nurses fighting the coronavirus.

• Some good news: The Community Foundation of Southern Arizona has grants available for local nonprofits; the Town of Marana is waiving late fees.

• How you can help: The Humane Society is asking you to donate pet food for hungry dogs, cats and other critters this weekend.

• The Loft Cinema is streaming cult classic Plan 9 From Outer Space tonight via YouTube.

Recapping the week:


Gov. Doug Ducey this week closed public schools through the rest of the academic year and issued a statewide stay-at-home order to discourage people from venturing out as the outbreak spreads. Because symptoms can take as long as two weeks to appear after exposure to the virus (and some people can remain entirely asymptomatic), health officials say community spread of the disease is far worse than the official numbers suggest. They have urged the public to avoid unnecessary trips and gatherings of more than 10 people.

Under the order, Arizonans are still able to shop for groceries, medical and household needs, and pet supplies. They can also go work, pick up a take-out meal from a restaurant, travel to take care of a family member, friend or pet, and can still go walking, hiking, biking and golfing, provided that they adhere to social distancing guidelines.

“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 will ensure we build capacity in our healthcare system, and help protect the lives of those we love most,” Ducey said Monday. “It’s important to emphasize that there are no plans to shut down grocery stores. People should continue to buy what you need for a week’s worth of groceries."

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said Ducey’s order does not go far enough and he should narrow his list of “essential businesses” that cannot be closed without approval from the state—a list that includes golf courses, barbershops and beauty salons.

“I urge Gov. Doug Ducey to narrow his list to reflect those services that are truly essential to Arizonans’ well-being,” Romero said via Twitter Monday.

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus has warned against people hosting house parties while the stay-at-home order is in effect, noting that house parties are not listed as an essential activity in Ducey’s order. Magnus said while police would typically give a warning to those who violate emergency orders, scofflaws could find themselves charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

“The worst consequence would be if you pass this virus on to someone who has a serious illness or dies as a result,” Magnus said. “That could be a family member, a friend, or someone you’ve never met. Although it’s especially dangerous for older people and people with certain underlying conditions, this coronavirus can have serious consequences for anyone, regardless of age or health. No matter who you are, you are not immune.”

In the face of the spreading virus, Ducey has also halted to evictions for 120 days; halted all elective surgery to keep hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients; loosened regulations to make telemedicine more available and increase eligibility for AHCCCS, the state's Medicaid program; and activated the National Guard to assist in grocery stores as Arizonans clear the shelves.

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry announced yesterday that he is sending much of the Pima County government workforce home, with some telecommuting and others on leave.

With schools now closed through the end of the academic year, teachers are transitioning to online learning and districts across the region continue to deliver lunch and breakfast meals to kids via school buses or setting up central locations.

Courts have rescheduled most hearings to avoid spreading the virus.

COVID-19 symptoms typically occur two to 14 days after exposure, and include headache, fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to the CDC. However, some cases of the virus are entirely asymptomatic. Practices to avoid infection include social distancing (of at least six feet), washing your hands, avoiding unnecessary trips and not touching your face. COVID-19 can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on stainless steel and plastic surfaces up to three days. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, speak with a healthcare provider for medical advice.

According to the CDC, people who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Stay at home and avoid public transportation, but stay in touch with your doctor. If you do leave your home, wear a facemask and clean your hands often. If you develop more severe symptoms (persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, bluish lips) get medical attention immediately. Your local health authorities will give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.

Have you caught COVID-19? Are you feeling ill? Is your small business struggling to make it? Have you lost your job as a result of the outbreak? Are you struggling to manage your kids while schools are closed? Tell us your COVID-19 stories. Send an email or photo to tucsoneditor@tucsonlocalmedia.com.

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