Monday, June 1, 2020

Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Monday, June 1: Confirmed Cases Top 20K; ER Visits on the Rise; Ducey Enacts 8 p.m. Statewide Curfew in Wake of Rioting; Details on Reopening of Schools Expected Today

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2020 at 9:15 AM

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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona surpassed 20K as of Monday, June 1, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

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Pima County had 2,382 of the state's 20,123 confirmed cases.

The coronavirus had killed 917 people statewide, including 185 in Pima County, according to the report.

In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases hit 9,937.

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.

• Following the end of Gov. Doug Ducey's stay-at-home order on March 15, Arizona hospitals are seeing a rise in the number of people hospitalized with COVID symptoms, as well as more people visiting emergency rooms. Today's Arizona Department of Health Services report shows that through yesterday, 961 Arizonans were hospitalized. 540 people arrived at emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on May 31, according to the report—a drop of 79 from the day prior.

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• A protest against police violence turned violent in downtown Tucson on Friday night when rioters smashed windows, painted graffiti, and others went wild in downtown Tucson. The protest was one of many across the country following the killing of George Floyd, who died in police custody after a Minneapolis Police Officer kneeled on his neck as the black man gasped for air and said he couldn't breathe. Following Friday's riot, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus asked the public to not attend a Saturday protest. A few hundred people still turned out on Saturday night for a protest march that went smoothly until protestors attempted to match back downtown and clashed with police.


Following similar rioting in the Phoenix area over the weekend, Gov. Doug Ducey declared a nightly curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. The curfew will continue through June 8 unless extended. During the curfew, members of the public are prohibited from "using, standing, sitting, traveling, or being present on any public street or in any public place, including for the purpose of travel," according to the Tucson Police Department. Exceptions include police, firefighters, emergency responders, medical personnel, the National Guard, and members of the media. People are allowed to travel to and from work, make deliveries, obtain food, care for a family member, friend or animal, patronize a private business, seek medical care, or flee a dangerous situation.

• Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman is expected to unveil details today about how Arizona schools will reopen in the fall. Gov. Doug Ducey said he was working with Superintendent Kathy Hoffman on the plan during a press conference last week. Arizona schools closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in mid-March, while students were out on spring break. Teachers delivered the final quarter's lessons online.

• There's a big partisan divide on whether the state is reopening too quickly, but most Arizonans are ready to get the hell out of their houses, according to a poll out last week. Roughly 41 percent of voters surveyed by political consulting firm HighGround say the state is moving "too fast" to reopen and get back to business. But roughly 39 percent say the reopening pace is "just about right." Another 19 percent say they don't know.

Despite that split, the poll found most Arizonans are ready to resume at least some of their normal activities. Three-fourths of those surveyed say they are at least probably ready to get back to hosting friends and family, 74 percent say they are probably ready to gather in groups of 10 or fewer, about two-thirds are probably ready to go shopping and nearly 60 percent are probably ready to go back to restaurants. More details here.

• As more Pima County establishments reopen to the public, local elected officials and health experts are enacting emergency regulations or advising people on 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 flu circulating, that could be a real mess for all of us,” England said last week in a YouTube briefing. 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.”

• Pima County Justice Court is set to start hearing eviction cases this week, with more than 500 on the docket, according to Pima County Constable Joe Ferguson. Evictions have been delayed through late July as a result of the spread COVID-19 and the subsequent economic meltdown, but the court hearings that will set the stage for the evictions are set to resume as courts get back to business. While renters with COVID-related hardships have been protected from evictions, late rent payments have not been forgiven.

• Tucson City Court will begin hearing more cases today. The court has been closed since March except to hear a limited number of cases. As the court reopens, all staff and visitors will be required to wear a face mask, maintain social distance to the extent possible, and undergo a temperature check. Anyone who has a fever of more than 100.4 or above having their hearing rescheduled. Access to the courtrooms will be restricted to court staff, defendants, parties, witnesses, victims, treatment providers, ADA assistants, and attorneys who wear masks or face coverings. The public should arrive a half-hour before their scheduled hearing time to navigate the new restrictions. Other 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.

• 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 jimn@tucsonlocalmedia.com.

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