Friday, June 5, 2020

Pima County to Protesters: Remember, there’s still a pandemic

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2020 at 1:00 PM

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In her June 5 video address to the community, Pima County Health Department Director Theresa  Cullen had a simple message for anyone planning to attend this Saturday’s rally at the University of Arizona: Don’t forget about COVID-19.

“We want to remind you that there is a pandemic, and there are things you can do to keep safe,” Cullen said.

In her address, Cullen provided several common-sense tips: Stay safe if you decide to participate by practicing social distancing, wear a mask, and use hand sanitizer. If you’re sick, don’t attend any demonstrations. If you’re nervous while at an event, hang out on the peripheries.

None of the information Cullen shared was new, though she did also provide some clothing tips.

“Because we live in Arizona and it will be warm this weekend, please consider wearing long clothes; long loose clothes,” she said. “This will protect you from the sun as well as any other elements that you may encounter.”

New Trump Appointee to Foreign Aid Agency Has Denounced Liberal Democracy and “Our Homo-Empire”

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2020 at 11:00 AM

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A new Trump appointee to the United States’ foreign aid agency has a history of online posts denouncing liberal democracy and has said that the country is in the clutches of a “homo-empire” that pushes a “tyrannical LGBT agenda.”

In one post, Merritt Corrigan, who recently took up a position as deputy White House liaison at the U.S. Agency for International Development, wrote: “Liberal democracy is little more than a front for the war being waged against us by those who fundamentally despise not only our way of life, but life itself.”

Corrigan’s new position in the Trump administration, confirmed by two officials, has not been previously reported.

Corrigan previously worked for the Hungarian Embassy in the United States and tweeted that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is “the shining champion of Western civilization,” Politico reported last year. An embassy spokesman, Béla Gedeon, said Corrigan left her position there in mid-April.

Orban, a far-right politician, has cracked down on civil society, academic freedom and other liberties. USAID has recently partnered with Hungary to help Christians in Iraq, a pairing that some career USAID officials said they found unsettling.

Asked about Corrigan’s writing, acting USAID spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala said the agency has a “zero-tolerance policy of any form of discrimination or harassment based on gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or any other possible distinguishing characteristic that can define any of us.”

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Banner Shares Safety Tips Against Riot Control Sprays

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2020 at 10:30 AM

click image COURTESY FIBONACCI BLUE ON FLICKR
  • Courtesy Fibonacci Blue on Flickr

While international conventions outlaw the US from using chemical agents in warfare, we still use them on our own citizens. In response to a wave of national riots and police tear-gassing, Banner Health’s Poison and Drug Information Center recently shared a list of safety tips if the public is exposed to these riot control agents.

According to Banner, these agents refer to a category of chemicals, including tear gas and pepper spray, which can cause acute eye pain, tearing skin irritation, and respiratory tract irritation. People can be exposed to these agents by skin or eye contact as well as inhalation. Recommended safety tips if exposed include:

• Immediately remove any exposed clothing
• Rinse your face immediately; if it is in your eyes, rinse for at least 10 minutes 
• Wash the agent off your skin with large amounts of soap and water 
• Patients with pre-existing lung problems (e.g. asthma, COPD) are at increased risk for breathing problems 

The Poison Center also advises people to continue to hydrate well throughout the day and bring water with them when protesting. With excessive heat warnings in Arizona, it puts everyone at higher risk for heat-related illness and injury.

In addition, COVID-19 is still present. Banner encourages all protesters to continue to follow CDC recommendations to protect themselves and others from this virus. Those recommendations include:

• Do not attend protests if you are ill. 
• Wear a mask when you’re in public near others. 
• Stay six feet away from others. 
• Bring sanitizer with you so that you can wash your hands frequently.

Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Friday, June 5: Total Confirmed Cases Jump by 1500 To Top 24K; Deaths Top 1K; Hospitalizations Increase by 155 To Reach 1,234; Ducey Says He Anticipated Increase in Cases When He Lifted Stay-at-Home Order

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2020 at 9:10 AM

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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona surpassed 24,000 as of Friday, June 5, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. That's a single-day jump of more than 1,500 cases.

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Pima County had 2,883 of the state's 24,332 confirmed cases.

The death toll topped 1,000 today, with 1,012 dead across the state, including 202 in Pima County, according to the report.

In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases hit 12,091.
                                                                              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, 1,234 Arizonans were hospitalized, a jump of 155 from the previous day. A total of 718 people arrived at emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on June 4, according to the report.
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At a press conference yesterday, Ducey said he and Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ anticipated the current increase in positive COVID-19 cases because testing has “dramatically increased” within the state.

Christ reported 8,227 staff and residents in skilled nursing facilities across Arizona have been tested for the virus. They expect to have tests done at all of these facilities by June 11.

She downplayed the alarm about the recent increase in cases, which some have attributed to the end of the stay-at-home order on May 15, saying “as people come back together, we know there will be transmissions of COVID-19.” While they admitted new cases are to be expected when people begin to interact again, Ducey and Christ said their main focus was to ensure that hospitals had capacity for an increase in cases. They reported that current use of hospital beds, ICU beds, and ventilators are all within capacity at this time.

“The fact that we were going to focus on having more tests means we were going to have more cases,” Ducey said. “We anticipated that. What we wanted to do was to be prepared for this.”

• Ducey has ordered a statewide curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 p.m. through June 8 unless extended. The curfew order came following a weekend of unrest in Tucson and Phoenix. A protest against police violence turned violent in downtown Tucson on Friday night when rioters smashed windows, painted graffiti, and otherwise 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 for more than eight minutes as the black man gasped for air and said he couldn't breathe.


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Claytoonz: It's Trippy

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2020 at 8:30 AM

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For more Claytoonz click here.

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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Gov. Ducey Says He Anticipated Current Rise in Cases When He Lifted Stay-at-Home Order

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 7:02 PM


Gov. Doug Ducey said the current rise in COVID-19 cases and emergency room visits was expected when he lifted the states's stay-at-home order on May 15.

Ducey and Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said at a press conference today that they anticipated the current increase in positive COVID-19 cases because testing has “dramatically increased” within the state.

Christ reported 8,227 staff and residents in skilled nursing facilities across Arizona have been tested for the virus. They expect to have tests done at all of these facilities by June 11.

She downplayed the alarm about the recent increase in cases, which some have attributed to the end of the stay-at-home order on May 15, saying “as people come back together, we know there will be transmissions of COVID-19.”

While they admitted new cases are to be expected when people begin to interact again, Ducey and Christ said their main focus was to ensure that hospitals had capacity for an increase in cases. They reported that current use of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators are all within capacity at this time.

“The fact that we were going to focus on having more tests means we were going to have more cases,” Ducey said. “We anticipated that. What we wanted to do was to be prepared for this.”

When a reporter asked if the state was willing to sacrifice people’s health in order to reopen the economy, Ducey said they mourn “every death in the state of Arizona,” and that every decision they made since the beginning of the pandemic has been to protect and save lives.

Christ and Ducey said they are focused on being able to care for the populations that are most vulnerable: those who are over 60 years old and/or have compromising medical conditions.

“We’re continuously monitoring the hospital capacity,” Christ said. “We are not in a crisis standard of care protocol right now. I don't think it will be a specific percentage that will trigger that, but looking at the totality of the data.”

Christ said there is currently a lag in the testing data, and they anticipate to see if the new cases are coming from the places specifically targeted with testing, or if it is simply community spread. As of right now, they don’t know the answer.

Ducey opened his weekly press conference by calling the death of George Floyd an “American tragedy.”

Floyd, a black man, was killed in Minnesota on Memorial Day when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes over suspicion of a forged check. He was unarmed.

His death has sparked protests, both peaceful and destructive, across the nation. Arizona’s protests last week prompted the governor to order a statewide 8 p.m. curfew.

Ducey said he had a discussion with African American leaders this past Sunday, which produced a list of “deliverables” that he hopes to see enacted through the legislature or other avenues.

The governor also thanked law enforcement officers for protecting against the small group of people who rioted in major cities last weekend.

“Arizona will not confuse peaceful protestors and demonstrators with looters and rioters,” Ducey said. “We will maintain peace and order to respect George Floyd’s memory.”

Colonel Heston Silbert with the Arizona Department of Public Safety said he had seen “nothing as horrific and tragic as what happened to George Floyd.” He said the people who rioted and destroyed property “hijacked the cause,” and now with the governor’s curfew in place, people are peacefully protesting in 100+ degree weather.

“They care about his cause, they care about what's going on, they care about the improvement, and we care,” Silbert said. “We understand that we’re only as strong as the violations that one person commits. We all have to answer for that, but if improvement comes from that, I hope for better days ahead.”

He said police reform and accountability has grown “leaps and bounds” since the Rodney King riots in 1992. When asked about the recent death of Phoenix resident Dion Johnson, a black man who was killed by a DPS officer who found him asleep in his car on the side of the road, Silbert said there is currently an internal and external investigation going on.

He told the press the name of the officer would not be released at this time because of a policy that precludes them from doing so.

Democratic state lawmakers have requested that Gov. Ducey include legislation about law enforcement reform in his plans for an emergency session. When asked about this at the press conference, Ducey said he will work with legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle and that his January agenda previously called for funding of body cameras for all Department of Public Safety officers to wear.

“I believe there are things we can do in Arizona from training to diversity of our law enforcement officers to how we interact with the citizen,” Ducey said. “I think there's a lot that can be done.”

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Your Southern AZ COVID-19 PM Update for Thursday, June 4: What We've Covered Today

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 5:30 PM

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Starting in on the downswing of the week, let's take a look at the stories we covered for you today.

  • The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona reached 22,753 as of Wednesday, June 3, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. That's a jump of 530 from yesterday and a total of 2,600 new cases in the last three days.
  • More than 1,000 Tucsonans attended a rally held by March For Justice Tucson, a group founded and run by young Black women, on the University of Arizona mall, in front of Old Main, on Wednesday, June 3.
  • 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 District 4 candidates had to say.
  • When Amira Chowdhury joined a protest in Philadelphia against police violence on Monday, she wore a mask to protect herself and others against the coronavirus. But when officers launched tear gas into the crowd, Chowdhury pulled off her mask as she gasped for air. “I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I felt like I was choking to death.”
  • As the summer heat rolls in, people start looking for ways to cool off. Marana residents can add the town’s splash pads to their list of activities starting this Saturday—as long as everything goes to plan.
  • Puzzle of the Day: Can You Spot the Pattern?
  • With the Republican National Committee actively seeking new homes for its August convention, some in Arizona are angling for the state to get in line with the long list of other potential suitors.
  • If there’s a hole in your heart yearning for live music, look no further than The Gaslight Music Hall’s upcoming drive-in concerts—tickets for which are still available now. Even better, the Oro Valley venue has three shows booked next week.

Tickets still available for Gaslight Music Hall drive-in concerts

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 4:30 PM

The George Howard Band is performing Tuesday, June 9 at the Gaslight Music Hall in Oro Valley. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • The George Howard Band is performing Tuesday, June 9 at the Gaslight Music Hall in Oro Valley.
If there’s a hole in your heart yearning for live music, look no further than The Gaslight Music Hall’s upcoming drive-in concerts—tickets for which are still available now. Even better, the Oro Valley venue has three shows booked next week.

Performing Tuesday, June 9 is the George Howard Motown Band. Backroads Country Band takes the stage Wednesday, June 10, and Rock & Roll with Vinyl Tap! closes out the week Thursday, June 11. All shows begin at 7 p.m.

The ongoing drive-in concert series is the Gaslight’s way of keeping their customers entertained (and their employees working) during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to general manager Heather Stricker.

“Tony Terry, owner of The Gaslight Music Hall, loved the idea of outdoor concerts. Once the sun goes down, the weather is beautiful and the parking lot is full of live, awesome music,” Stricker said. “We knew we would have to cancel our Dance Parties for the summer to abide with the social distancing requirements, so we have invited a lot of our dance bands to come perform in this drive-in concert series. We feature different genres of music every week, there is always something for everybody.”

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