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May 22, 2020

Arizona coronavirus news in brief, May 22

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona: Memorial Day, projecting possibilities of spread, and more.

Arizona COVID-19 map, June 5

Cases: 24,332 | Deaths: 1,012 | Tests: 370,255*
Click on a county to see totals and daily increases reported by the state. Daily changes don't necessarily reflect the previous 24 hours. Health experts say case data significantly underrepresents the actual spread of the virus due to limited testing. *Test numbers combine serology and PCR tests.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: ADHS, county health departments, Census 2018 Quick Facts

Select regional and national coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic as of Friday, May 22. For more, visit our resource page.

Find more coverage on this week's episode of Arizona 360, including how to properly wear a mask.

Model lays out different possibilities for COVID-19 in Arizona


As Arizona's stay-at-home order becomes a thing of the past, new projections this week shed light on the state's possible future with the coronavirus.

A model released Monday by Arizona State University presents a range of possible futures for the pandemic depending on how well Arizonans maintain social distancing. The model projects that if virus transmission rates remain the same as they have since March 31, over 26,000 people in Arizona could end up in hospital beds by September.

If social distancing is abandoned entirely, the model projects hospitalizations could peak at 80,000, total, by late summer. Though the model authors say that would be highly unlikely because they expect the government would act before it got to point.

Learn more here.

As Memorial Day tempts people outdoors, virus rebound feared

Millions of Americans are set to emerge from coronavirus lockdowns and venture outdoors to celebrate Memorial Day weekend at beaches, cookouts and family outings. But public health officials have deep concerns that large gatherings could cause outbreaks to come roaring back.

Medical experts warn the virus won’t take a holiday for the traditional start of summer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend staying home, avoiding crowds and connecting with family by phone or video chat. Specialists advise those who do celebrate to maintain social distancing, wear masks and avoid sharing food and drinks.

Learn more here.

The Buzz: Already fraught census count further challenged by pandemic


Every 10 years the government sets out to count every person living in the United States. This time, the pandemic is complicating matters.

Even before the coronavirus hit, experts warned the 2020 census was in trouble. They said fear caused by a failed White House proposal to add a question about citizenship, coupled with distrust of government, could result in an undercount.

Learn more on this episode of The Buzz.

Pima County supervisors revise business rules


Restaurant operators praised the Pima County Board of Supervisors Thursday for relaxing business rules the board adopted a week ago. The rules are intended to protect public health as businesses reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.

The changes mean restaurants won't have to post cleaning logs online or force customers to reserve a table in advance at every restaurant.

Brew pub owner Taylor Carter was pleased the board was open to making changes:

"I know this is something that is not light, and you're going over it with due diligence and what's important," Carter said.

Republican Board member Steve Christy kept up his opposition to the process of setting business rules for reopening, which is being challenged by several members of the state Legislature,

"This whole issue is still undecided and the deciding factor will be the determination made by the state's attorney general," Christy said.

Despite Christy's objection, the revised ruled passed on a 3-2 vote.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich has been asked to decide whether the county's new rules violate the governor's executive order from last week, which prevents local governments from setting additional restrictions.

Limited Memorial Day reopening of Grand Canyon ‘premature,’ critics say

Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The Grand Canyon will reopen on a limited basis for Memorial Day weekend, a move critics call “premature” during the COVID-19 pandemic and “tone-deaf” in the face of startling infection rates on the neighboring Navajo Nation Reservation.

The opening, from Friday to Monday, is just the second at the park, which was completely closed to visitors on April 1 to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The park also opened for four days last weekend on a limited basis.

Entry will be allowed to the South Rim from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m., with visitors who are in the park by then allowed to stay until sunset. Food service, bike rentals and a limited number of trails will be available, while residential areas, sit-down restaurants, visitor centers, museums, shuttle buses and some roads will remain closed.

Learn more here.

Arizona Senate to take up series of House measures Tuesday


GLENDALE — The Arizona Senate plans to return to the Capitol on Tuesday to deal with measures the House enacted this week. It also will take up 28 House bills that have been awaiting votes since the Legislature halted major work in March because of the coronavirus.

Republican Senate President Karen Fann said Friday those 28 bills are non-controversial measures. The House took similar steps when it returned this week, passing 32 Senate bills before adjourning. The House also passed virus-related business liability and child care bills. Fann says the Senate will address them but didn't say how.

Arizona diagnostic firm gives 300 virus tests for homeless


PHOENIX (AP) — Sonora Quest Laboratories is working with local and national nonprofits and Maricopa County to test 300 members of the homeless community for the virus that causes COVID-19.

The national nonprofit Community Solutions, which supports local efforts to ease homelessness, said this week the Arizona diagnostic testing firm donated the tests and the health care provider Circle the City is administering them.

Other local nonprofit groups are helping transport people for testing and trying to help them find them permanent housing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged testing for people in homeless shelters, noting their higher incidence of chronic disease.

Researchers: Job losses due to pandemic hit Tempe hardest


PHOENIX — Arizona researchers say new maps sorting claims for unemployment benefits by zip code statewide indicate Tempe was hit harder than any other city in the state by economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Maricopa Association of Governments said Thursday the 85281 zip code in Tempe had over 6,600 unemployment claims between March 14 and May 14, the most of any zip code in the state. MAG said the adjacent 85282 zip code had just over 5,200 claims, helping make Tempe the Arizona city hit hardest.

Learn more here.

Arizona House OKs virus liability shield for businesses


PHOENIX — The Arizona House has voted to give businesses protections from lawsuits if their customers or employees get sick from the coronavirus.

The bill approved Thursday also would eliminate criminal penalties for violating the governor’s public-health orders. Republicans approved it in a party-line vote. The House also backed a measure allocating $88 million in emergency federal cash to help child care centers reopen and ensure workers can return to work knowing their children are safe. They then adjourned for the year.

The liability shield and child care funding still require approval in the Senate.

Learn more here.

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