It's been a week, huh? We hope you're staying safe out there. In case you missed anything, here are some of the stories we covered today:
- We started the day with the morning report of AZDHS updated statistics in Arizona, with 3,112 positive cases now being reported in the state, and 97 deaths overall. 543 of those cases and 26 deaths come out of Pima County. Maricopa had 1,741 cases reported.
- In the wake of President Trump’s move to push aside the official who was supposed to lead the coronavirus bailout watchdog group, four other members are just as vulnerable.
- As if we didn't already have enough of a reason to love eegee's, now they've come through on a request to support those who are helping our city through these trying times.
- With libraries and schools closed there are families across Pima County without reliable access to free or low-cost books, but adventures are available in the palm of your hand thanks to Make Way for Books’ smartphone app.
- UA President Robert Robbins warned this week that a return to normal life could be months away—or longer.
- A local charity is helping youth members of Pima County 4-H and Future Farmers of America after their annual livestock auction moved online when this year’s Pima County Fair was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state remains under Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order that has closed a wide number of “non-essential” businesses, including many retail stores, barbershops, salons, and swap meets. Public parks remain open but amenities such as playgrounds and restrooms are closed.
Under the stay-at-home 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.
Ducey announced four new executive orders this week:
• Visitors from areas with major community spread of COVID-19 must enter quarantine for two weeks if they come to Arizona.
• Restaurants can sell more of their bulk goods and supplies as groceries. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero announced this week that local restaurants could now operate pop-up grocery stores and sell their bulk goods without any changes to their certificates of occupancy.
• Staff at nursing homes and similar facilities will have to wear personal protective equipment and institute symptom checks for anyone entering the building. In addition, residents must be provided with a video device to communicate with the outside world.
• Hospitals and healthcare workers must start tracking data related to COVID-19 such as available hospital beds, the number of patients visiting emergency rooms with COVID-19 symptoms and the use of ventilators and personal protective equipment.
Because COVID-19 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. Last week, the CDC began advising people to cover their faces in masks in public.
With schools now closed through the end of the academic year, teachers have transitioned to online learning and districts across the region are delivering lunch and breakfast meals to kids via school buses or setting up central locations.
In the face of the spreading virus, Ducey has also halted residential, business and nonprofit evictions; 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.