Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup: Ducey Won't Extend Stay-at-Home Order Past Friday; Pima County Supes Set To Discuss Potential New Regs for Restaurants/Bars/Pools/Etc.; AZ Confirmed Cases Top 12K; Death Toll Rises to 594

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2020 at 9:08 AM

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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona reached 12,176 of Wednesday, May 13, according to the morning report from the Arizona Department of Health Services—a jump of 440 new cases from yesterday's report.

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Pima County had 1,661 confirmed cases.

The coronavirus had killed 594 people statewide, including 144 in Pima County, according to the report.

In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 6,341.

Because symptoms can take as long as two weeks to appear after exposure to the virus (while some people can remain entirely asymptomatic), health officials continue to urge the public to avoid unnecessary trips and gatherings of more than 10 people and have advised people to cover their faces with masks in public.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced yesterday that he would not extend Arizona’s stay-at-home order past Friday, May 15. He also said that gyms and pools could reopen today.

Ducey had already given the green light for restaurants and bars that offer food service to reopen this week. Restrictions were lifted on stores, barber shops and salons last week.

Ducey said he hoped that schools would be able to reopen in the fall but was yet not ready to make that call.

Dr. Bob England, the director of the Pima County Health Department, said the reopening of bars this week "wasn't people's general understanding" given that Ducey had said in an April press conference that bars would remain shuttered longer than restaurants because people tend to mingle in bars. England said expected to see "a lot of variation out there."

"It's going to be a little bit like the Wild West," England warned. "Just know that if you're vulnerable, if you're older, if you have underlying health conditions that put you at higher risk, then please, please, please hunker down for a while longer."

England said last week that the results of reopening so many establishments wouldn’t be known for weeks as test results tend to lag behind the actual spread of the virus.

“It will take a few weeks to know the impact of this so we won’t know until early June what all of this is doing to the epidemic curve,” England said in a daily briefing.

Other members of the medical community said Ducey’s move may have come soon and will result in greater spread of the virus. State Rep. Randy Friese, an emergency room doctor, warned last week that by relaxing so many standards so quickly, Ducey was risking losing all the progress that state has made in stemming the disease.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the Trump administration, told the U.S. Senate in testimony yesterday that states and cities should follow the guidelines set out by the CDC when allowing businesses to reopen.

“It’s my concern that if some areas—cities, states, what have you—jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up without having the capability to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks,” Fauci said. “The consequences could be really serious.”

The Pima County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to meet this morning to discuss potential emergency regulations related to the “best practices” strategies developed by the county’s Back To Business Task Force, although their authority is limited by Ducey’s emergency declaration limiting the powers of local communities beyond what the state has mandated in response to COVID-19. Supervisors will also discuss Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry’s announcement that most county workers must return to work next week, even if they are able to telecommute.

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.

 Correction: This post earlier reported that movie theaters must remain shuttered. Movie theaters are among the businesses that Ducey has allowed to reopen.

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