COVID-19 in Arizona: No shelter-in-place, beware of home remedies

(Graphic by Brian Hertzberg/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Gov. Doug Ducey does not plan to order a shelter-in-place lockdown for Arizona, despite orders issued in neighboring states of California and New Mexico for residents to stay indoors, he said in a news conference Monday.

“We’re following the facts related specifically to the state of Arizona,” the governor said. “The CDC isn’t there yet. Arizona is not there yet.”

Three new COVID-19 deaths pushed Arizona’s casualties up to five Tuesday. Pima County health authorities on Monday evening confirmed the third Arizona death, a woman in her 50s with underlying health conditions. Details about the other two new deaths have not yet been released.

As of Tuesday, March 24, Arizona health officials reported 326 cases of COVID-19 in Arizona, and five deaths. The state’s public health lab has tested 356 people for the illness and ruled out 313. More tests are being conducted at private labs, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Man dies after taking a chemical to prevent COVID-19

Health officials are warning adults not to self-diagnose and treat COVID-19 following the death of a Pima County man who ingested chloroquine phosphate, a chemical used to clean fish tanks. The man’s wife told 12News in Phoenix that they both became seriously ill 20 minutes after ingesting the chemical and were rushed to the hospital, where her husband died soon after. The wife told the station the couple heard President Donald Trump discuss a possible cure before ingesting the chemical.

At a White House briefing last week, the president mentioned the malaria medicine chloroquine as a possible treatment for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The medicine is being tested in China, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to test it in his state. The Food and Drug Administration on March 19 warned against use of the drug, saying it is not approved for use against COVID-19 and its efficacy is being tested.

“Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus, but self-medicating is not the way to do so,” Dr. Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director, said in a press release. “The last thing that we want right now is to inundate our emergency departments with patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could potentially jeopardize their health.”

Contacting your lawmaker in Washington, D.C.

Arizona lawmakers in Washington are transitioning to telework, which means constituent communications may be handled differently on Capitol Hill. One expert told Cronkite News that postal mail to your senator or representative will “probably not get a timely response.” On the other hand, telephone calls may be forwarded to staffers’ homes, depending on the politician.

Arizona essential services

Ducey on Monday afternoon issued an executive order identifying “essential services” in Arizona that, for the time being, are allowed to remain open in response to COVID-19. Hospitals, health care providers and emergency services top the list of services, which also includes gasoline stations, grocery stores, pharmacies, takeout restaurants and transportation services. Those businesses are allowed to remain open within the state.

Rental and eviction assistance included in Arizona relief package

The Arizona Legislature passed a $50 million relief package that includes help for Arizonans who can’t pay rent and face eviction on Monday. The bipartisan COVID-19 relief package still has to be approved by Ducey, according to AZFamily. Currently, courts in Maricopa and Pima counties are delaying eviction hearings until April.

Child care for frontline COVID-19 workers

Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, on Tuesday announced child care for such COVID-19 workers as first responders, health care workers and essential public sector workers, including child safety workers. The initiative will launch the Arizona Enrichment Centers, which will adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended safety regulations, for these workers starting next week. At the centers, child and staff temperatures will be taken upon entry and class size will be kept small to allow for social distancing, AZ Family reported.

Ducey and Hoffman last week extended statewide school closures until April 10.

How to help

Arizonans can help those affected by COVID-19 by volunteering or donating to Arizona Together, a state-run initiative to improve access to resources and information from state agencies and community partners. “Our food banks, hospitals, youth centers, and nonprofits serving the community all need support,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said in a news release. “We’re calling on Arizonans to come together and help where they can, while continuing to follow safe practices and the guidance of public health.”

News Reporter, Los Angeles

Hannah Foote is an Arizona native who expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minors in justice studies and ethnic studies. Foote, who primarily is a digital reporter, also has reported for The State Press and the Downtown Devil.