Friday, June 19, 2020

Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Friday, June 19: Mask Up in Tucson! Pima Romero Orders Tucsonans To Wear Masks Starting Tomorrow or Else; County Set To Vote on Mandate Today; Record-Breaking 3200 New Cases Today Top Week of Skyrocketing Numbers

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 8:59 AM

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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona jumped over 46,000 as of Friday, June 19, after the state reported 3,246 new cases this morning, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

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Pima County had 5,019 of the state's 46,689 confirmed cases. That's up almost 10,000 from Monday's total of 36,705 cases.

A total of 1,312 people have died after contracting the virus, including 240 in Pima County.

Maricopa County has more than half the state's cases, with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases hitting 25,999.

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.

Arizona hospitals continue to see a steady rise in the number of people hospitalized with COVID symptoms, as well as more people visiting emergency rooms. This morning's Arizona Department of Health Services report shows that as of yesterday, a record 1,832 Arizonans were hospitalized, a jump of 823 people from the 1,009 hospitalized on June 1.

964 arrived at emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on June 18. Previous to June, the number of people seeking help in emergency rooms never topped 667, but the daily number hasn't dipped below 800 since June 5.

The number of patients in ICU beds hit a small drop to 519 yesterday.

At a press conference this week, Gov. Doug Ducey conceded that Arizona's soaring numbers were trending in the wrong direction.

"There is an indication that we are not out of the woods yet," Ducey said,

Ducey, who wore a mask for the first time before beginning his press briefing, said he would allow cities and counties to set their own policies in regard to mandating the wearing of masks.

While he had previously blocked local jurisdictions from setting standards more strict than the state's emergency regulations, Ducey said different areas of the state were facing different circumstances, so he was relaxing his emergency regulations that limited the actions of local communities. He said it would be up to local communities to set up rules and penalties.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero wasted little time in taking advantage of Ducey's relaxed standard. She issued a proclamation yesterday requiring the wearing of masks for everyone older than 2 years old when out in public when physical distancing is difficult beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday, June 19. Violators could face a civil infraction.

“We saw numbers spiking related to the reopening of businesses in the state of Arizona,” Romero said yesterday. “Just Tuesday we saw one of the biggest spikes of cases throughout the state.”


The new guidance carries a $50 fine or five hours of community service for those who exhibit a “blatant disregard” for public health and safety, according to Romero. The city will take an educational approach in enforcement, reserving civil infractions for repeat offenders, Romero said.
“We’re going to have an educational approach to the requirement. If there is a blatant disregard for the public health of others, then we will, if absolutely necessary, a civil infraction of $50 or five hours of community service,” Romero said. “This is something we’re asking of everyone to practice social responsibility, practice caring for themselves and others, and it will take all of us to accomplish.”

City Attorney Mike Rankin said the proclamation applies to all public settings defined as “spaces where the public is invited or allowed to come in” and includes outdoor spaces where social distancing is near-impossible.

“It applies in those spaces where physical distancing is impossible or difficult,” Rankin said.

Businesses will be required to have all staff to wear a face mask when interacting with the public. Masks will also need to be worn by operators in all public transportation settings, including vehicles for hire like Uber and Lyft drivers.

Parents will also be required to make sure their children 2 years of age and up are wearing facemasks.

“Parents have the responsibility of taking reasonable actions to get the face-covering on their children and when you wear a face covering it has to cover your nose and mouth,” Rankin said.

The proclamation gives parents flexibility by stating "parents are to make reasonable efforts" to make sure their children have facemasks on in public spaces, according to Rankin.

While young children are required to wear a facemask in public, they won't need to wear it while at daycare, Rankin said.

"Generally this does apply to children as young as two years old but with respect to where it applies it talks about places of public accommodation where the public is entering," Rankin said.  "I understand that parents come in to drop their kids off, but daycare isn't really the place where you are inviting the public to come in all day."

The proclamation does make exceptions for people working in their own private office, driving in their personal vehicle, working out or running in the outdoors, or when eating or drinking in a restaurant setting, among others. The proclamation goes into effect on Saturday, May 20 at 6 a.m.Businesses will be required to have all staff to wear a face mask when interacting with the public. Masks will also need to be worn by operators in all public transportation settings, including vehicles for hire like Uber and Lyft drivers. Parents will also be required to make sure their children 2 years of age and up are wearing facemasks.

“Parents have the responsibility of taking reasonable actions to get the face-covering on their children and when you wear a face covering it has to cover your nose and mouth,” Rankin said.

The proclamation gives parents flexibility by stating "parents are to make reasonable efforts" to make sure their children have facemasks on in public spaces, according to Rankin. While children young children are required to wear a facemask in public, they won't need to wear it while at daycare, Rankin said.

"Generally this does apply to children as young as two years old but with respect to where it applies it talks about places of public accommodation where the public is entering," Rankin said. "I understand that parents come in to drop their kids off, but daycare isn't really the place where you are inviting the public to come in all day."

Romero added child care providers should still practice established best practices and speak with the children's parents often about any coronavirus concerns in the home.

"We want to make sure that child care centers practice this as much as it's practical and being able to have the guidance of the parent or guardian of that child," Romero said. "The owners of child care centers have to speak to the parents."

Romero also called a special meeting of the Tucson City Council at 5 p.m. today to discuss other options the city may have to combat the outbreak.

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik called Ducey's announcement a "half-step."

"The fact that we can do masks is fine," Kozachik said. "We ought to be able to do more."

Kozachik yesterday called for the city to return to the emergency proclamation issued by Romero in March that limited restaurants to curbside service and closed bars, gyms, theaters and other gathering places. Kozachik said he believed the city's charter gave the council that authority, although he said he expected it would be challenged by Republican state lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the Pima County Board of Supervisors will meet at 3 p.m. today to vote on whether to mandate masks when people go out in public to slow the rising spread of COVID-19. The ordinance would apply countywide, including within all jurisdictions, Valadez said.

Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson said she was in favor of mandating masks.

Ducey, who had not emphasized the wearing of face masks before last week, recommended that people should “act responsibly” and wear the masks when out in public.

“Every Arizonan should wear a face mask,” Ducey said. “It’s the smart thing to do.”

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