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Southern Arizona COVID-19 Weekly Update

Weekly happenings surrounding COVID-19

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• The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona had topped 9,300 as of Tuesday, May 5, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Pima County had seen 1,379 of the state's 9,305 confirmed cases. The coronavirus had killed 395 people statewide, including 105 in Pima County, according to the report. In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 4,929.

• Nationwide, more than 1.18 million people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which had killed an estimated 69,000 people as of Tuesday, May 5, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University. President Donald Trump, who said he didn't expect more than 60,000 Americans to be killed by the coronavirus a few weeks ago, said at a Sunday Fox News town hall he expects the death toll to remain under 100,000. Meanwhile, The New York Times revealed that a recent forecast prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency predicted that by the end of May, the nation would see 200,000 new cases every day, with the death toll rising to 3,000 a day, up from the current 1,750. Trump administration officials said the report hadn't been properly vetted by the White House cononavirus task force. The IHME model now predicts roughly 135,000 deaths in the United States by the beginning of August.

• Gov. Doug Ducey's extended his stay-at-home order through May 15, but modified it so retail stores that sell goods can begin reopening this week by appointment or with curbside pickup. Ducey will lift more restrictions on retail stores at the end of this week and will allow restaurants to reopen on Monday, May 11. Other businesses, such as gyms, theaters and barber shops, will remain shuttered for now. Ducey's decision earned cautious support from local officials such as Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and Pima County Supervisor Ramón Valadez, but both Democrats urged Ducey to allow local communities to determine how and when it is safe to reopen business. Conservative state lawmakers expressed unhappiness that Ducey is not moving faster to allow more businesses to reopen, with state Rep. Mark Finchem of Oro Valley calling it "wholly unacceptable" and joining a group of lawmakers to curtail the governor's emergency powers via a future ballot proposition.

• The Ducey administration has launched a "testing blitz" with a plan of testing 10,000 to 20,000 people every weekend, with the first round launching on Saturday, May 2. Testing for the virus is key to safely reopening the state, but the Kaiser Family Foundation noted as of Monday, May 4, Arizona trailed every other state and the District of Columbia, having just tested 11.1 people per 100,000 population. Arizona has tested just over 81,000 people, according to Kaiser.

• University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins said the university planned to resume face-to-face classes in the fall. The UA can expect a $250 million drop in revenue along with a significant drop in new enrollment of both in-state and out-of-state students, according to Robbins. In an email to faculty and staff, Robbins predicted a loss of $58.2 million in auxiliary income, including Intercollegiate Athletics; a decrease in philanthropic gifts and investment income from cash on hand, projected to result in a $54.8 million loss in revenue; a decrease of 11% in new in-state and 19% in new out-of-state undergraduate and graduate student enrollments, equivalent to an $18.7 million loss in revenue; a decrease in research activity projected to result in a $16 million hit to Facilities & Administrative Expense Recovery; and various other losses in revenue along with new expenses related to the outbreak.

• Teachers and volunteers in the Amphi School District spread out last week to deliver congratulatory yard signs to graduating seniors. "We have to do things for these kids to make them feel special, and I'm hoping that the families see this is a small token of gratitude and love coming from our district and our teachers," said CDO Principal Tara Bulleigh.

Four employees of the Pima County Sheriff's Department tested positive for COVID-19. All four, including a correctional staff officer at Pima County Jail, were placed on pandemic leave. The jail staffer had been away from work for unrelated reasons and officials were confident he did not infect coworkers or jail detainees. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the county's ongoing efforts to reduce the Pima County jail population. The average daily population was 1,428 as of last week. Before the pandemic, the jail had an ADP of around 1,900, according to April 25 memo from Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. Huckelberry said there has been a "rapid decline" in daily bookings since around March 11, and he hopes that future bookings will be only for those who are an "actual danger to our community." A coalition of criminal justice agencies in the county have worked to reduce the number of people in jail for nonviolent, low level drug offenses for years. "It is ironic that all of our previous actions and activities associated with attempting to reduce our detention populations have been difficult," Huckelberry wrote in his memo. "However, the COVID-19 pandemic has succeeded in what previously has been difficult to accomplish."

—Additional reporting from Logan Burtch-Buus, Kathleen B. Kunz, Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner and Tara Foulkrod

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