Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Wednesday, May 27: State's Confirmed Cases Top 17K; 831 Now Dead After Contracting Virus; Pima County Health Director Warns Coronavirus "May Be an Every-Winter Phenomenon”

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2020 at 9:15 AM

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona topped 17,000 as of Wednesday, May 27, according to the morning report from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Pima County had 2,119 of the state's 17,262 confirmed cases.

The coronavirus had killed 831 people statewide, including 175 in Pima County, according to the report.

In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 8,627.

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.

As Pima County emerges from the state's stay-at-home order, many establishments have reopened and more are planning to in the weeks to come as local elected officials attempt to enact emergency regulations or otherwise advise people how to safely avoid COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Bob England, Pima County's Interim Health Director, said the next few weeks will show healthcare experts two things: The degree to which our population has developed an immunity to COVID-19 and the seasonality of the disease. He said if the virus behaves really seasonally and cases continue to drop since Arizona’s stay-home order was lifted May 15, that’s good news in the short run. However, he said there could be bad news later in the year.

“But in the long run, that may mean we’re in for it in the winter because if it comes back with a vengeance during the time we have other respiratory viruses and flus circulating, that could be a real mess for all of us,” England said.

England said now was the time to prepare, both as residents and healthcare providers, for any potential resurgence. England added that if COVID-19 behaves like other coronaviruses, and if our immune system behaves as it does with other illnesses caused by coronaviruses, “then maybe we’ve got a couple of years worth of protection to look forward to. That means this may be an every winter phenomenon.”

• The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 along party lines last week to revise the emergency health regulations they passed the previous week. 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.

• City of Tucson buildings 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 YMCA in northwest Tucson reopened its doors to the community on last Wednesday, May 27, with added safety precautions and limited hours to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They plan to open their other locations using a similar strategy in the coming weeks. Visitors will notice the Y's cardio, circuit equipment and free weights are open for use while high-traffic spaces such as group fitness, locker rooms, gyms and pools are not available yet. Members will be asked to sign a waiver and take a "Health & Safety pledge." All staff members that interact with members will be required to wear a face mask. Members are encouraged to wear masks, but it is not required. The capacity inside the building will be limited to ensure social distancing between members, and sanitation stations have been installed so that members can wipe down equipment before and after use. The Y is also limiting use of their facilities to 60 minutes for each member. They have limited operations Monday through Friday from 6 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. to allow for cleaning. More Y's are expected to reopen in the coming days.

• Pima County Public Libraries reopened last 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