Friday, May 22, 2020

Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Friday, May 22: Board of Supes Revises Restaurant Rules; Confirmed Cases Rise to 15,608; 775 Now Dead After Contracting Virus; Arizona House of Reps Adjourns for the Year

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2020 at 9:18 AM

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona topped 15,608 as of Friday, May 22, according to the morning report from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County had 1,974 confirmed cases.

The coronavirus had killed 775 people statewide, including 174 in Pima County, according to the report.

In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 7,950.

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, especially if you have underlying health conditions, and have advised people to cover their faces with masks in public.

With Arizona's stay-at-home order lifted, businesses are reopening across the state, some more cautiously than most. While Gov. Doug Ducey has praised the responsibility approach he sees Arizonans taking, local elected officials such as Tucson Mayor Regina Romero have warned that he is proceeding too quickly and Arizona may see a resurgence of the virus.

"I don’t want our economy to just re-open, I want it to remain open," Romero said. "That will not happen if there is a second wave of the virus and we are forced to shut down again."

Dr. Bob England, the director of the Pima County Health Department, said people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 should continue to take precautions.

"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 cautioned. 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 recent daily briefing.

In other COVID-related news:

• The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 along party lines yesterday to revise the emergency health regulations they passed last week on party lines. The health regulations, related to the “best practices” strategies developed by the county’s Back To Business Task Force, came under fire from some members of the restaurant sector as well as local GOP state lawmakers, who asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich to look into whether the board was violating state law by enacting the regulations.

Some of the most significant revisions include removal of the $500 civil penalty, allowing bartop seating as long as six-foot distancing requirements are met and nixing 50 percent occupancy guidelines if physical distancing allows for higher occupancy.

“I think we have adequately captured all of the information that has been provided. I think our revision that we had Tuesday afternoon was based on a large part from the comments we’ve received here,” Pima County Administrator Huckelberry said before reading the revisions.

Supervisor Steve Christy, who voted against the regulations alongside fellow GOP Supervisor Ally Miller, said the board was ignoring the possibility that the Attorney General's Office could tell them the regulations violated Ducey's order that local jurisdictions do no more than what the state has allowed.

County officials say the new regulations flesh out Ducey's vague guidelines so they are on firm legal ground.

 • Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said other than city court, city buildings would remain closed to public access through June 8. When city buildings reopen, visitors will be required to wear masks and may need to undergo a temperature check before being allowed in. City employees can continue to telecommute, especially those with underlying health conditions or those who have children who need care. The city is continuing its moratorium on disconnecting water service and the moratorium on evictions at city-owned properties through June 30.

• The Arizona House of Representatives adjourned for the year yesterday after passing a handful of bills this week. The House resumed business Monday after temporarily adjourning in mid-March. The Arizona Senate adjourned earlier this month but is expected to return in some form to transmit the House-passed to Gov. Doug Ducey for his signature or rejection. A special legislative session could happen later this year to deal with budget issues and other legislation related to COVID-19.

• Pima County Public Libraries reopened this week, with limited services, including book pickup, computer use on a first-come, first-served basis, and printing, copying and fax services. The new open hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will still be precautions for coronavirus, including taking guests' temperatures before they enter the building, wearing face masks and maintaining six feet of physical distance. The library will also allow only a limited number of people in at a time, and guests will most likely have to wait in line to get in.

• COVID-19 symptoms typically occur two to 14 days after exposure, and include headache, fever, cough, shortness of breath or a loss of taste and smell, 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. 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