COVID-19 in Arizona: State stay-at-home order extended to May 15

Arizona will begin gradually reopening businesses over the coming months, Gov. Doug Ducey says, with plans for restaurants to voluntarily reopen dine-in services as soon as May 12. He stressed that the state will continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations as a part of this gradual transition. (Screengrab of Arizona Department of Health Services livestream via YouTube)

Gov. Doug Ducey has extended the state’s stay-at-home order until May 15, imploring Arizonans to continue physical distancing at a press conference Wednesday.

“It’s 15 more days, I’m asking for some patience,” Ducey said.

Ducey outlined reasons for the extension and limitations, such as continued travel restrictions to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

“We will continue in Arizona to put public health first,” he said, adding that the moves were taken so the state can “return stronger not only from a health perspective but economically.”

Ducey pledged to increase statewide testing while continuing safe social distancing practices.

“I know there are states that have opened at 25 percent capacity,” he said, referring to Texas, Alaska and others. “Well, anybody that’s ever run a restaurant knows that 25 percent is the surest way to continually lose a lot more money.”

Arizona will begin gradually reopening businesses over the coming months with plans for restaurants to voluntarily reopen dine-in services as soon as May 12. Ducey stressed that the state will continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations as a part of this gradual transition.

“I’m confident that if we’re responsible and thoughtful and methodical, we will be the brightest light economically going forward,” the governor said.

As of Wednesday, April 29, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 7,202 cases of COVID-19 and 304 deaths in the state. It said 68,813 tests have been completed as of April 29 in public and private labs in Arizona, and 9% have come back positive for the novel coronavirus that causes the disease.

Navajo Nation imposes another weekend curfew

Bottled water and other donated supplies were distributed Wednesday on the Navajo Nation Reservation, and President Jonathan Nez warned all Navajos to obey the latest weekend curfew enacted to control the spread of COVID-19.

“Those of you driving around, I hate to say it but, you’re being selfish,” Nez said via Facebook Live from Black Hills, where supplies from Swire Coca-Cola in the Valley were being distributed.

Sixty Navajos living on the reservation have died as of Tuesday, according to tribal health officials. Of the 1,873 positive cases of COVID-19 on the reservation, 1,138 are in Arizona.

Trump administration revives council to aid tribes

The White House on Tuesday reestablished the White House Council on Native American Affairs to “continue the important interagency coordination” of the team, according to the Department of the Interior. Navajo Vice President Myron Lizer said tribal authorities intend to begin working next week with Tyler Fish, the tribal liaison at the White House who will direct the council, to provide more relief.

Carbon dioxide emissions decline drastically

Since much of the nation was ordered to stay home in late March, levels of carbon dioxide in major cities have fallen to possibly historic lows because there are fewer drivers and flyers, Northern Arizona University scientist Kevin Gurney reports. He compared emissions in the first weeks of April with years of data and found jet fuel emissions fell 59%, gasoline emissions fell 43% and diesel emissions fell 17%.

Phoenix economy in danger after COVID-19

It could take six years to recover the jobs lost in the past six weeks, according to Christine Mackay, director of community and economic development for Phoenix. “Seeing that 20% to 25% of our small businesses won’t be here when this is over is terrifying for me,” she said in a statement.

Correctional officers threaten walkout

The Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association alleges that protective measures are not being implemented despite 30 officers testing positive for COVID-19 and hundreds more are showing symptoms. In a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey, union spokesman Carlos Garcia said that if the union’s demands were not met, “correctional officers will walk off the job because they fear for their lives.”

Phoenix physician seeks ‘an army of people who want to help’ it

Dr. Tyler Southwell of Phoenix created the nonprofit ProtectAZ – made up of doctors, nurses, activists and community leaders – to help alleviate shortages of masks, gowns and other equipment used in the fight against COVID-19. “We’re trying to build an army of people who want to help,” Southwell told ABC15. ProtectAZ also provides PPE for frontline workers in Indian Country.

Tribes have gotten half the help they sought

Congress included $8 billion in aid to Native American governments in its national CARES Act relief package, but that’s shy of the $20 billion that had been requested, Cronkite News reports. “Indian Country is resilient, they will survive,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix. “They will thrive, and they will come out of this just as strong as they were before.”

How to help: Nonprofit working to reduce medical debt

RIP Medical Debt is buying people’s pre existing medical debt and erasing it. ABC15 said the national nonprofit recently started a specific fund that helps frontline workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic. You can help by donating on RIP’s website.

Sustainability Reporter, Los Angeles
Sports Reporter, Los Angeles