THE LOCAL NUMBERS: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona had topped 14,000 as of Tuesday, May 19, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Pima County had seen 1,888 of the state's 14,566 confirmed cases. The coronavirus had killed 704 people statewide, including 158 in Pima County, according to the report. In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 7,482.
THE NATIONAL NUMBERS: Nationwide, more than 1.5 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus, which had killed more than 90,000 people in the United States as of Tuesday, May 19, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University. The IHME model now predicts roughly 147,000 deaths in the United States by the beginning of August. The IHME model forecast of the most likely number of deaths in Arizona now forecasts 2,871 through Aug. 4, a slight drop from last week.
LUNCH RUSH: Gov. Doug Ducey's stay-home order expired last Friday, May 15. Ducey has said that retail stores, barber shops, salons, restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters and other businesses are free to reopen although he encouraged Arizonans to be cautious and maintain social distance and take other precautions. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said she was concerned by Ducey's easing of restrictions. "As eager as we all are to return to any sense of normalcy, I believe that the governor is moving too quickly and that we should proceed methodically and cautiously to prevent a re-emergence that would be even more damaging to our economy in the long-run," Romero said.
STATE LAWMAKERS TO PIMA COUNTY: SPREAD 'EM! The Pima County Board of Supervisors delayed a vote to revise new health code regulations for restaurants and bars. Supervisors set a May 21 meeting to revisit the regulations. The new health code is designed to reduce transmission of COVID-19, but three state lawmakers asked the Arizona Attorney General's Office to step in and force the county to rescind the rules. State Sen. Vince Leach and state Reps. Mark Finchem and Bret Roberts say the county is exceeding its authority in creating the regulations and have asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich for an investigation. Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said the county was on firm legal ground. Huckelberry added that the county had received feedback regarding the regulations that ranged from complaints that the county was doing too much to concerns that the county wasn't doing enough.
SHUT DOWN AT CITY HALL: Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said other than city court, city buildings would remain closed to public access through June 8. When city buildings reopen, visitors will be required to wear masks and may need to undergo a temperature check before being allowed in. City employees can continue to telecommute, especially those with underlying health conditions or those who have children who need care. The city is continuing its moratorium on disconnecting water service and the moratorium on evictions at city-owned properties through June 30.
MEANWHILE, IN THE SUBURBS: The towns of Marana and Oro Valley issued amendments to local emergency declarations last week to fall in line with Gov. Ducey's update orders. Marana Mayor Ed Honea announced that local restaurants can temporarily expand their outdoor seating to provide for increased distance between customers, and the town opened several park amenities on Friday, May 15. All basketball courts in public parks have reopened, but only for shooting practice. No games are allowed at this time. Marana also opened the skate park at Continental Ranch, dog parks, tennis courts, ramadas, soccer fields and more. Playground structures reopened on Saturday, May 16. Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield issued an amendment allowing restaurant seating to expand, and announced that dog parks, tennis courts, pickleball courts, basketball courts and more are all reopening. The Oro Valley Aquatic Center, Community Center, playgrounds and volleyball courts will open June 1, though the town has canceled its summer camp program.
HOUSE PARTY: The Arizona House of Representatives resumed work this week after temporarily adjourning in mid-March, with an aim of wrapping unfinished business by the end of the week. Although the Arizona Senate has already adjourned for the year, House lawmakers could still pass bills that the Senate had already approved and send them to Gov. Doug Ducey for approval. A special legislative session could happen later this year to deal with budget issues and other legislation related to COVID-19, including limiting liability for businesses that could face lawsuits related to the outbreak.
TIME TO RETURN THOSE OVERDUE BOOKS: Pima County Public Libraries reopened this week 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. People who visit the library should wear face masks, maintain physical distance and be prepared for temperature checks before they will be allowed to enter. The library will also allow only a limited number of people in at a time.
—Additional reporting from Kathleen B. Kunz, Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner, Tara Foulkrod and Logan Burtch-Buus