COVID-19 in Arizona: Navajo police say weekend curfew was effective, urge drivers to slow down

The Navajo Nation’s 57-hour weekend curfew to combat the spread of COVID-19 on the reservation “went very well,” Police Chief Phillip Francisco said Tuesday in a town hall on Facebook.

“This was the largest coordinated operation for the Navajo Police Department that has ever taken place,” he said.

Authorities said 177 citations were issued on the reservation from Friday night through early Monday; 58 were for criminal nuisance and the rest were traffic violations.

As of Monday, the Navajo Nation has reported 813 positive cases of COVID-19 and 28 deaths. That’s an increase of 115 cases since Saturday.

Over the weekend, Francisco said, two police department employees tested positive for COVID-19. The chief also asked tribal members to not speed on empty roads because that forces officers to interact with the public.

“We are not immune from the possibility of having one of our law enforcement officers contract the virus,” Francisco said. “I am asking for everyone’s compliance so we don’t have to come in more contact with the public and possibly spread this through our police staff.”

Francisco also reminded people via Facebook Live to not ridicule anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19: “Do not let this divide our nation or cause discrimination within our own people or with our neighbors.”

As of Tuesday, April 14, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 3,806 cases of COVID-19 in the state and 131 deaths. It said 44,096 tests for COVID-19 have been completed in public and private labs in Arizona, and results were negative in 40,621 tests.

Nursing homes not disclosing COVID-19 cases

Arizona has yet to release the number of nursing home residents who have contracted COVID-19, the Arizona Republic reports. The country’s largest retiree advocacy group, AARP, has called for Gov. Doug Ducey to publicly disclose the names of the nursing homes as well as the number of individuals affected. According to USA Today, at least 2,300 long-term care facilities have reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,000 deaths.

Ducey last week issued an executive order to protect older people living in assisted living facilities, but it did not require that facilities publicly disclose vital information on COVID-19 infections.

Disabled Arizonans raise concerns with COVID-19 treatment

Arizona’s disabled community is growing worried as the state nears its COVID-19 peak. Gabe Trujillo, 36, is one of the many disabled individuals who fear they won’t be a priority if they need intensive treatments.

“It definitely has me worried now, not just for myself, but other people with disabilities,” he told the Arizona Republic. Trujillo, who has Hopkins syndrome, said the fear stems from a shortage of beds, ventilators and other medical supplies that are vital for those battling the virus.

Maricopa County jail tests for COVID-19

Dr. Grant Phillips, medical director of the Maricopa County Correctional Health Services, said 28 inmates have been tested for COVID-19, with results pending in seven cases and results negative in 21 tests, KJZZ reports. Inmates who exhibit symptoms are moved to a medical observation unit where jail officials “will be doing temperature checks daily on these individuals, as well as checking for symptoms — cough, shortness of breath and their overall clinical status,” Phillips said.

Protests mount as COVID-19 cases rise among detained immigrants

There are eight confirmed cases in the state’s two immigration detention centers, according to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Six of those cases were reported in Florence Detention Center and two in the La Palma Correctional Facility in Eloy.

As fears of the COVID-19 outbreak intensify, protesters conducted a caravan outside of the La Palma Correctional Facility on Friday, as more than 100 cars called for the release of the detainees, the Arizona Republic reported.

Calls to suicide and abuse hotlines have decreased

With schools closed and fewer interactions with the public from mandatory reporters, calls to suicide and child abuse hotlines are down, advocates say.

Suicide hotline calls have shown no increase during the COVID-19 outbreak throughout the state, despite experts’ and advocates’ concerns that the pandemic will lead to a rise in suicides as financial pressures and job losses mount. COVID-19 hotlines and fewer mandated calls due to school closures could influence the numbers, Matthew Moody of Crisis Response Network told KJZZ.

Arizona Department of Child Safety spokesman Darren DaRonco told KJZZ that remote learning has also meant fewer calls to the child abuse hotline.

“Teachers and school personnel comprise one of the largest groups to report child abuse,” he said. “On average, we are seeing an over 25 percent decrease in calls to our hotline since schools closed. That means many children are suffering in silence.”

Sun City West closes golf courses

Sun City West on Tuesday closed all seven of its golf courses as the pandemic is projected to reach its peak soon in Arizona. Ducey last month declared golf courses essential businesses, leaving them open.

“If a large wave, hurricane or tornado is approaching, do you not prepare and take cover? I have learned over years of competition that winning requires a bit of defense to be played,” William Schwind, general manager of Recreation Center Sun City West, said in a press release.

Arizona gun sales rose to record levels in March

A record 82,771 background checks were processed last month as Arizonans armed themselves during the pandemic. Cronkite News reports the number is twice as high as any number recorded in March since 1998. The sales mirror a national trend as more than 3.7 million background checks were conducted last month, compared with 2.6 million checks in March 2019.

ZIP code mapping data comes with caveats

The Arizona Department of Health Services on Sunday shared data that tracks cases by ZIP codes, demographics and age, among other categories. So far, the top ZIP code for confirmed cases is in Peoria, where 71 cases have been tracked in the 85382 area. However, the data is not complete because the state requires clinics to give their own address when the patient’s address is unknown, KJZZ reported. In addition to that, the data has gaps in such locations as Luke Air Force Base and the Army’s Fort Huachuca.

Arizonans can check the number of cases in a ZIP code here.

How to help

Cleaner Quicker Car Wash is gathering supplies for Sedona residents struggling during the economic shutdown. The car wash is accepting digital donations via its Facebook page, as well as cash and drop-off donations for a local food bank.

Health Reporter, Los Angeles
Luis Torres Lew-EEZ Toh-res
News Digital Producer, Phoenix

Luis Torres expects to graduate in May 2021 with a master’s degree. Torres is a senior writer for the digital publication Nice Kicks and an editorial manager for Manor Phoenix, a local boutique.