Your Southern AZ COVID-19 AM Roundup: Confirmed Cases in AZ Reach 12,674; Death Toll Tops 600; Stay-at-Home Order Expires Tomorrow; Gyms, Movie Theaters Can Reopen; Pima Supes Create New Restaurant Regs; DM Flyover Today Salutes Healthcare Workers

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The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona reached 12,674 of Thursday, May 14, according to the morning report from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

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Pima County had 1,696 confirmed cases.

The coronavirus had killed 624 people statewide, including 152 in Pima County, according to the report.

In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 6,341.



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 Gov. Doug Ducey announced this week that he would not extend Arizona’s stay-at-home order past Friday, May 15. He also said that gyms, pools and movie theaters could open this week.



Ducey also invited major-league sports to play in Arizona, although he said it would have to be without fans in the audience.

Ducey had already given the green light for restaurants and bars that offer food service to reopen this week. Restrictions were lifted on stores, barber shops and salons last week.

Ducey said he hoped that schools would be able to reopen in the fall but was yet not ready to make that call.

Dr. Bob England, the director of the Pima County Health Department, said the reopening of bars this week "wasn't people's general understanding" given that Ducey had said in an April press conference that bars would remain shuttered longer than restaurants because people tend to mingle in bars. England said expected to see "a lot of variation out there."

"It's going to be a little bit like the Wild West," England warned. "Just know that if you're vulnerable, if you're older, if you have underlying health conditions that put you at higher risk, then please, please, please hunker down for a while longer."

England said last week that the results of reopening so many establishments 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.

Other 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 last 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. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the Trump administration, told the U.S. Senate in testimony this week that states and cities should follow the guidelines set out by the CDC when allowing businesses to reopen.

“It’s my concern that if some areas—cities, states, what have you—jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up without having the capability to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks,” Fauci said. “The consequences could be really serious.”

In other COVID-related news:

• The Pima County Board of Supervisors yesterday 3-2 voted to enact emergency health regulations related to the “best practices” strategies developed by the county’s Back To Business Task Force. Republican Supervisors Steve Christy and Ally Miller voted against the regulations, which include taking the temperature of all workers and anyone making deliveries to restaurants. Christy said the regulations were too burdensome for a sector that has already been hammered by the outbreak's fallout.

• Pima County Public Libraries will reopen on Monday, May 18, with limited services, including book pickup, computer use on a first-come, first-served basis, and printing, copying and fax services. The new open hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will still be precautions for coronavirus, including taking guests' temperatures before they enter the building, wearing face masks and maintaining six feet of physical distance. The library will also allow only a limited number of people in at a time, and guests will most likely have to wait in line to get in.

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• Today, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s 355th Wing, alongside the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing, are taking off from Tucson International Airport at 2 p.m. in a flyover across the metro area in a salute to healthcare workers. A formation of two A-10 Thunderbolts IIs and two F-16 Fighting Falcons will begin the flyover at 2 p.m. The 40-minute flight will pass by healthcare facilities in Tucson, Sahuarita, Green Valley, Oro Valley, and Marana.

• The Arizona Supreme Court has denied an effort by initiative campaigns to collect online signatures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is disappointing in Arizona to see the courts and the attorney general and legislature repeatedly prevent the options of choice to voters where their options are to forgo their constitutional rights or to risk their health and safety," said Roopali Desai, the lawyer representing the initiative campaigns. "It's really unfortunate the court did not grant the relief under such extreme circumstances. It's not only disappointing but it's incredibly dishearting."

Initiative campaigns such as Smart and Safe Arizona, Save our Schools Arizona, Invest In Education and Arizonans for Second Chances filed a Petition for Special Attention with the Arizona Supreme Court on April 2. The groups wanted to utilize the state's E-Qual electronic signature system in an attempt to help initiatives continue collecting signatures during the pandemic. But lawyers for the state argued that the Arizona Constitution requires that petition passers personally witness every voter's signature.

• COVID-19 symptoms typically occur two to 14 days after exposure, and include headache, fever, cough, shortness of breath, blue toes 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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