Gov. Doug Ducey issued a stay-at-home order on Monday to prevent further spread of deadly COVID-19, which has claimed 20 lives in Arizona to date.
The “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” initiative will go into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, and run through the end of April.
“This decision was made with Arizona-specific data,” Ducey said, noting that he understands the concerns raised by alarming national news coverage of the pandemic. “Arizona is in a different position than places that were hit first and hit harder”
This executive order has the same effect of a shelter-in-place order, but the governor wants to avoid wording that could spike fear, saying a shelter in place “happens during a nuclear attack.”
In a news conference Monday, Ann-Marie Alameddin, CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, said hospitals and health care providers can’t be responsible for slowing down COVID-19 on their own.
“There is nothing routine about COVID-19,” Alameddin said. “We require all Arizona citizens to take heed: to stay home, to stay healthy, to stay connected, because the health care community and the providers who provide that care to you and your family are relying on that.”
Ducey addressed fears last week that Arizona was not among the first dozen states to issue a social-distancing order for its residents, saying Arizona didn’t need such an order at the time. His message was different Monday.
“Let’s use the technologies we have, let’s FaceTime each other,” Ducey said, noting he has a 96-year-old grandmother in Arizona and his own family has been practicing social distancing by relying on technology. “We want people to stay connected.”
As of Monday, March 30, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,157 cases of COVID-19 in the state, and 20 deaths. The department said 16,759 tests for COVID-19 have been completed in public and private labs in Arizona and 15,743 tests came back negative.
Arizona schools will remain closed until the end of the spring semester, Doucey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said Monday. The decision will keep Arizona schools in line with federal guidance released the day earlier, Ducey said in a news release.
“These efforts are crucial, and we recognize that schools are making every effort possible to continue providing instruction during closures,” he said.
Companies hiring amid COVID-19 pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has caused an enormous surge in unemployment throughout the country, but many companies are hiring. Fox 10 in Phoenix reports dozens of companies are offering employment opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Amazon, Banner Health, CVS and PepsiCo.
Lawsuit filed on behalf of displaced students
A class action lawsuit has been filed against leaders of Arizona’s three public universities that continued classes online during the COVID-19 pandemic, accusing the Arizona Board of Regents of failing to refund displaced students’ housing and campus fees, Arizona Family reports. The sudden spread of COVID-19 displaced countless students. Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University have not released responses to the filing. The lawsuit alleges NAU and ASU students have not been offered any form of a refund.
Navajo Nation is under curfew
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez ordered an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for those on the reservation after the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 moved up to 115 on Saturday, the Navajo Times reports. That’s 89 more than the 26 confirmed cases reported the previous Saturday. Two confirmed deaths were reported as of Friday.
Protection for families and small businesses
Ducey announced an agreement Monday with the state’s banks that aims to protect small businesses and families from eviction and foreclosure. Under the agreement, banks will suspend evictions and foreclosures for at least 60 days, but that period may extend for the duration of the state’s emergency declaration. Many banks have also implemented a payment deferral program for business loans.
Tokyo Olympics rescheduled
Japan and the International Olympic Committee announced that the 32nd Summer Olympics are rescheduled for July 23, 2021, through Aug. 8, 2021. The games were scheduled to begin July 24 of this year, but were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Arizona’s Olympic athletes will need to wait to compete, and the committee said the new date will cause the least amount of disruption to the international sporting schedule.
Some Arizona parks and trails remain open, but with limited access
Although many parks remain open, officials are limiting hiking access to halt the spread of COVID-19, Cronkite News reports. Last weekend, Phoenix officials limited access to such popular hiking destinations as Papago Park’s Hole in the Rock, Camelback Mountain’s Echo Canyon Trailhead and Piestewa Peak Trailhead. National parks, including the Grand Canyon and Saguaro, already have closed some popular trails and facilities but remain open.
How to help: Free meals for essential workers
Salad and Go is providing free salads or burritos to workers who are continuing their duties despite the coronavirus. The chain restaurant is offering food to different employees each day of the week, from health care professionals to truck drivers, with details posted to its Facebook page. Workers show an employee ID in the drive-thru to get the meal. Donations to feed others can be made via Salad and Go’s app, or at the drive-thru window. All donations will go toward UMOM New Day Centers and St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.
Cronkite News reporters Gabrielle Zabat and Annabella Piunti contributed to this report.