Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup for Friday, May 8: State's Confirmed Cases Top 10,500; Death Toll Tops 500; Stores and Barbers Reopen Today; US Rep. Grijalva, Others Say It's Too Soon; Modeling Team Back in Biz with the State

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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona topped 10,500 of Thursday, May 8, according to the morning report from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

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Pima County had 1,520 of the state’s 10,526 confirmed cases.

The coronavirus had killed 517 people statewide, a jump of 67 from yesterday’s toll. A total of 131 people had died in Pima County, a jump of 13 from yesterday, according to the report.



In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 5,525.

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 and have advised people to cover their faces with masks in public.



Arizona remains under a stay-at-home order through May 15, but Gov. Doug Ducey has modified his emergency declaration. Stores can now allow customers back inside today and barbers and beauty salons are back in business, while restaurants can begin serving customers next week. Ducey has set up various new regulations, including requirements to wear masks and a heightened cleaning regimen.

People are still advised to limit contact and businesses such as gyms, movie theaters and bars must remain closed, but Ducey said he wanted the state’s economy to gradually reopen.

“These habits we've acquired over the last 45 days will not be with us forever, but they will be with us for the time being,” Ducey said last week.

But some members of the medical community said Ducey’s move may have come soon and will result in greater spread of the virus. State Rep. Randy Friese, an emergency room doctor, warned this week that by relaxing so many standards so quickly, Ducey was risking losing all the progress that state has made in stemming the disease.

Dr. Bob England, the outgoing director of the Pima County Health Department, said this week that the true results wouldn’t be known for weeks as test results tend to lag behind the actual spread of the virus.

“It will take a few weeks to know the impact of this so we won’t know until early June what all of this is doing to the epidemic curve,” England said in a daily briefing.

England urged people to continue social distancing and wear masks and said older people and those with underlying health conditions should remain at home as much as possible.

Congressman Raul Grijalva said today that it was too soon to open because the state has not done enough testing.

“All of us are eager to return to some semblance of normality, but this decision cannot be made in haste,” Grijalva said in a prepared statement to the press. “Prematurely reopening the state not only risks losing more of our loved ones, but also further crippling our local communities by deepening the spread of a virus that has already taken far too great of a toll. I am deeply concerned that the state is continuing a push to reopen while the number of new cases has risen over the past 14 days and Arizona is last in the nation in testing per capita.”

The Ducey administration launched a "testing blitz" last Saturday with the aim of testing 10,000 to 20,000 Arizonans every weekend for the next several weeks. Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak said earlier this week that he did not know how many tests were conducted last Saturday, but Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said fewer than 600 people were tested in Pima County, which continues to struggle to receive test kits from the state.

The Ducey administration came under criticism this week for telling university professors who had been modeling COVID-19’s spread to cease work, but yesterday, the Arizona Department of Health reversed gears and said they would continue working with the team.

COVID-19 symptoms typically occur two to 14 days after exposure, and include headache, fever, cough, and shortness of breath, 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. COVID-19 can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on stainless steel and plastic surfaces up to three days.

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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