COVID-19 in Arizona: Ducey faces pushback from religious groups and state attorney general

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PHOENIX – Days after extending the state’s stay-at-home order until May 15, Gov. Doug Ducey is getting resistance from the state’s top prosecutor over health restrictions that allegedly infringe on religious rights.

In an opinion issued Thursday, Attorney General Mark Brnovich challenged the mandatory 6-foot social distancing minimum in the context of religious services.

“This flexible language recognizes that what may be appropriate or feasible in one context may not be appropriate or feasible in another context,” wrote Brnovich, acting at the request of state Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Yuma.

Townsend and state Sen. David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, are vocal critics of the executive authority exercised by Ducey, a fellow Republican in his second term as governor, to shut down most of the state in late March.

“I believed that the executive order, from the beginning, is a mistake and that he is exercising tyranny over our state,” Farnsworth told Prescott News Network.

As of Monday, May 4, the Arizona Department of Health Services had reported 8,919 cases of COVID-19 and 362 deaths in the state. It said 85,253 tests for COVID-19 had been completed in public and private labs in Arizona, and 8% of tests had come back positive for the virus that causes the disease.

Prisoner on death row dies of COVID-19

A third Arizona prisoner has died of the disease, KTAR reports. Death row inmate Alfonzo Raymond Salazar died Thursday due to complications from COVID-19, according to Dale Baich, a public defender whose office formerly represented Salazar. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office has yet to confirm the cause of death. Salazar was convicted for the 1986 murder and kidnapping of Sara Kaplan in Pima County.

Counterfeit cleaning supplies seized at the border

U.S. border agents in Nogales during March and April seized more than 900 bottles labeled Clorox, KTAR reports, which were found to be “significantly diluted” with water, rendering the solution ineffective as cleaning products.

Private sector manufacturers team up with hospitals

Intubating a patient for a ventilator has a high risk of infection for medical professionals, as it distributes particles widely while the patient’s airway is accessed. To combat this, medical professionals and local businesses have partnered to build specialized shields, modeled after those developed in Taiwan, KJZZ reports.

Domestic violence calls on the rise in Navajo Nation

According to KJZZ, domestic violence calls to multiple domestic violence shelters on the reservation have “increased dramatically.” The shelters, which are not supported by federal grants administered by the tribe’s Division of Social Services, have been deemed essential and continue to run during the pandemic.

Seniors and Salvation Army team up to feed those in need

A senior community in Mesa has partnered with the Salvation Army to deliver hot meals for those unable to venture out during Arizona’s stay-at-home order, the East Valley Tribune reports. The Salvation Army is presently delivering about 60 meals a day, the Tribune said.

Now playing: Night of the Living Audience – Return of the Drive-In

While traditional movie theaters are closed during the stay at home order, drive-ins are making an unexpected comeback. The Salt River Fields Drive-In near Scottsdale is offering shows at just $25 per car, per movie.


12 News has begun a #SendTheLove video feed to offer messages of encouragement to one another during the prolonged period of social isolation. Their website reads: “Just shoot a 15-second video of your greetings to one another – whether it’s “Happy birthday,” “Congrats on your wedding,” or even just “I miss you” – and post them on your social media using the hashtag #SendTheLove. We also want to feature people paying it forward, so send us those, too.”

News Assistant

Dylan Simard is a multimedia journalist who works as a photographer, audiographer and writer for Cronkite News. He is one of the hosts of Arizona in Focus, as well as a host for the Alexa news briefing.