COVID-19

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Your Southern AZ COVID-19 PM Update for Thursday, May 28: What We've Covered Today

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 6:00 PM

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Happy Thursday! We're trying to stay cool as Arizona heats up, and we hope you are too. Here are the stories we've gone over today.


The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona reached 17,763 as of Thursday, May 28, according to the morning report from the Arizona Department of Health Services.
When it comes to fake national holidays it's hard to top the one that celebrates charbroiled ground chuck on a toasted sesame bun.
Tribe aims to improve dental health by bringing smiles to the dental visit.
The Arizona Attorney General's office is closing the investigation requested by three state lawmakers into whether the Pima County Board of Supervisors violated Gov. Doug Ducey's executive order after approving new regulations to the county's health code.
Tucson Weekly asked the candidates running for Board of Supervisors seats this year if they approved of county COVID-19 decisions and if they would have done anything differently. Here’s what the candidates in District 3 had to say.
Don’t panic if you see fireworks tonight over the Oro Valley sky around 8:30 p.m. Thursday night, it’s just the town testing this year’s Fourth of July fireworks display.
Democratic congressional leaders expressed alarm Wednesday at a sudden acceleration in the deportation of migrant children.
Arizona cities and counties will get access to nearly $600 million in COVID-19 relief funding. Gov. Doug Ducey announced yesterday that the state will provide $441 million to local cities, towns and counties that did not receive funding from the federal government’s CARES Act earlier this year.
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 today.
Tucked away deep in the nearly 2,000-page Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROES, Act, is a section that will funnel money to defense and intelligence companies and their top executives, according to experts.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Banner Health launched virtual waiting rooms for its 300 clinics across the country.
Are you ready to rock? How about some swing dancing? Luckily, the Gaslight Music Hall has both queued up next month when Backroads Country Band and Vinyl Tap! perform in the drive-in concert series June 10 and 11, respectively.
The Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona is continuing to serve as a hub for local creatives during COVID-19 by allowing artists to "take over" their Instagram stories.
The Sundt Foundation donated $26,000 to two nonprofits in Southern Arizona working to address increased needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Ducey Announces AZ Schools Will Reopen in the Fall

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 4:19 PM

Gov. Doug Ducey announced today during a press conference that he expects Arizona schools to reopen in the fall.

Ducey said he was working with Superintendent Kathy Hoffman, who will release details about the reopening on Monday, June 1.

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.

Banner Unveils Virtual Waiting Rooms To Help With Social Distancing

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 3:30 PM

UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER TUCSON - BANNER
  • University Medical Center Tucson - Banner


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Banner Health launched virtual waiting rooms for its 300 clinics across the country. The virtual waiting rooms are equipped with chatbots from the health technology company LifeLink that assist patients via text-based communication.


The normal waiting room experience, which included close proximities of patients, needed to be updated for pandemic distancing. According to Greg Kefer, Chief Marketing Officer at LifeLink, the chatbot automates the paperwork patients normally fill out while sitting in the waiting room. This process is now completed in advance.


Patients communicate with the chatbot through text messaging on any device. As Kefer explained, this makes it especially accessible because no app needs to be downloaded nor does any password need to be created or remembered.


Kefer also suggests that this new process may serve as a solution to patients who have resisted going to the doctor.

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Hidden in the New House Coronavirus Relief Bill: Billions for Defense Contractors

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 3:00 PM

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  • Bigstock
ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Click here to read their biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

When they passed another bill this month to help the tens of millions of Americans left unemployed and hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, Democrats in the House of Representatives touted the $3 trillion legislation’s benefits to working people, renters, first responders and others struggling to get by.

They made no mention of the defense contractors.

Tucked away deep in the nearly 2,000-page Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROES, Act, is a section that will funnel money to defense and intelligence companies and their top executives, according to experts.

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New Poll: Arizonans Split on Whether the State Is Reopening Too Quickly But Eager To See Friends, Get the Hell Out of the House

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 2:45 PM

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 today.

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.

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“Despite some pressure from a small vocal constituency, the slow and steady approach to reopening the state should be viewed as a success in the eyes of the Arizona electorate,” said HighGround CEO Chuck Coughlin said in an analysis of the polling numbers. “Granted there is still a significant portion of the state that believes things are moving ‘too fast.’ At the same time, many of them expressed a willingness to get back out in public to shop, eat, and visit friends and family."

On another major question, a slight majority—52 percent—are ready to send kids back to school in the fall, while about 14 percent say they probably are not ready and nearly 21 percent say they definitely are not ready to allow kids back in school. Coughlin said he expected those numbers would move as schools roll out safety precautions.

“Getting kids back into the classroom is the next critical step to re-ignite our economy," Coughlin said. "Voters understand this—parents with kids at home especially—and will be ready for that to happen starting this fall.”

The survey notes significant divides on the questions between Republicans and Democrats, as well as between younger and older voters and between women and men.

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On the political side: just over half (53.3 percent) of Republicans in the state say the reopening is moving along just about right, while 30 percent of Republicans say it is moving too slow. But among Democrats, nearly 70 percent say the state is reopening too quickly, while roughly one in four say it's just about right. Among voters outside of the two major parties, 42 percent say the state is reopening too quickly, while roughly 36 percent say it's just about right.

On the age side: 45 percent of voters 39 and younger say the reopening is going too fast, which is about 10 points higher than voters 50 and older. "I believe that reflects their own concern about the country’s economic recovery in relation to their own retirement plans," Coughlin said. "Time will tell if the younger, more progressive cohorts start to become more comfortable with reopening or if it truly is a more partisan response.”

On the gender side: 46 percent of women surveyed said the state was reopening too quickly, which was about 11 points higher than men.

HighGround's methodology:

The N=400 survey was conducted among likely voters 5/18 through 5/22. The poll surveyed likely Arizona 2020 General Election voters who have a history of electoral participation and was balanced to model the likely turnout of voters across party, age, region, and gender. The live interview survey of voters was conducted by HighGround Public Affairs to both landline and cell phone users. The partisan advantage was set at +4% GOP based on previous election trends and expected Presidential Election turnout. The margin of error is ±4.9%.

Here's How the State's COVID-19 Funding Shakes Out for the Tucson Metro Area

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 2:27 PM

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Gov. Doug Ducey announced yesterday that the state will provide $441 million to local cities, towns and counties that did not receive funding from the federal government’s CARES Act earlier this year.

The new AZCares Fund has been established by the governor to distribute these resources based on population data from last year’s Census estimate, the same method used for the federal government’s initial disbursements.


The City of Tucson and unincorporated Pima County already received money directly from the federal government, so they are not eligible for this new round of funding. The Town of Marana will receive about $5.6 million and the Town of Oro Valley will receive about $5.2 million. Marana has roughly 3,000 more residents than Oro Valley.


The Town of Sahuarita is set to receive about $3.6 million and the City of South Tucson will get $656,000. For a total list of municipalities and funding amounts, click here.


In addition, these local governments along with tribal communities, schools and other groups, are now eligible to receive $150 million in “expedited reimbursements” from the Federal Emergency Management Administration for expenses related to addressing COVID-19, such as purchasing testing supplies, personal protective equipment and more.


A new system called the Arizona Express Pay Program, has been created with the intention to streamline the application process for accessing these FEMA funds.


For more information about these new initiatives, visit arizonatogether.org.

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Cities, counties to get $441 million in direct COVID-19 relief funds

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 2:00 PM

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WASHINGTON – Arizona cities and counties will get access to nearly $600 million in COVID-19 relief funding, part of the more than $1.8 billion awarded two months ago to Arizona under the federal CARES Act.

Larger jurisdictions received their funds directly from the federal government, but Gov. Doug Ducey said Wednesday that the remaining cities and counties in the state will get $441 million directly, based on population. They will also have access to another $150 million in emergency relief funds.

“Our office has met with mayors and county leaders to hear directly how COVID-19 is impacting their communities, and this plan delivers for them,” said Ducey, during a roundtable with a half-dozen mayors and county officials from around the state.

“It maximizes flexibility and prioritizes getting dollars quickly to where they’re needed most,” he said. “Key points the plan is focused on are maximizing flexibility, minimizing red tape and getting needed relief funds to local communities faster.”

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District 3 Board of Supes Candidates React to New County Regs and COVID-19 Response

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 12:30 PM

The Pima County Board of Supervisors has taken several steps in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Pima County, including voting on March 19 to close down all nonessential businesses, and later when the state reopened the economy, voting to implement and then revise new health regulations for restaurants and bars offering dine-in service once again.

Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson: “The primary concern that I have for rural communities is that we ensure that they have some food security." - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson: “The primary concern that I have for rural communities is that we ensure that they have some food security."
The board’s decisions have been met with criticism across the political spectrum. Democratic supervisors Ramon Valadez, Sharon Bronson and Betty Villegas said they voted for the regulations to ensure public safety, while Republicans Steve Christy and Ally Miller say the new rules make it harder for beleaguered businesses to reopen. At the request of three GOP lawmakers, Attorney General Mark Brnovich investigated if the measures imposed by the board exceeded their authority, but the complaint was dismissed yesterday on a legal technicality because the Board of Supervisors released the proclamation that was the source of the complaint when they passed revised regulations.

Tucson Weekly asked the candidates running for Board of Supervisors seats this year if they approved of those decisions and if they would have done anything differently. Here’s what the candidates in District 3 had to say.

In the District 3 Democratic primary, six-term Supervisor Sharon Bronson is facing Juan Padres, who is making his first run for public office. Padres, who previously worked for the autonomous trucking company TuSimple, is now operating his own business, a courier service between Tucson and Nogales. He is also involved in bringing Mexican craft beers to the Tucson market.

Bronson, who voted in favor of closing bars and limiting restaurants to take out and delivery in March, said responding to the virus has been challenging because of a lack of resources coming from federal agencies.

Continue reading »

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