Ducey Announces New Executive Order — Mandates Include Limiting Indoor Dining Occupancy to Less Than Fifty Percent

Today, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 4,057 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 112,671.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey held a press conference to address the continuing rise of COVID-19 cases in the state, and to announce a new Executive Order. The governor was joined by Arizona Department of Health Services’ (ADHS) Dr. Cara Christ and Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs director Major General McGuire.

“The decisions I am going to make are going to be reflective of Arizona, and Arizona exclusively. … So, there are continued sacrifices that are needed,” Gov. Ducey said at today’s press conference.

The governor continued, “There is nothing you can do that will help more than staying home.”

With that, Gov. Ducey announced additional actions to help slow the spread of COVID-19. He said that his Executive Order 2020-47 focuses on places of higher risk. Namely, restaurants.

Gov. Ducey said that today’s Order is going into effect with consultation with restaurant industry leaders and influencers within the industry.

The Order, states that “Every restaurant with indoor seating in the State of Arizona shall operate at less than 50 percent of the permitted fire code occupant load.”

In addition to ensuring at least six feet of separation between parties at different tables, unless the tables are separated by glass or plexiglass, the Order includes mandates that:

  • Restaurants with outdoor dining must ensure six feet of physical distance between tables;
  • Restaurants must eliminate any indoor standing room where patrons can congregate; and
  • All buffets, cafeteria style and self-serve food bars at restaurants must be closed.

Gov. Ducey also stated that, with regards to reducing risk, “We are going to continue strengthening guidance in the State of Arizona. … In a pandemic, in an effort to protect lives, and to protect livelihoods, to have some balance out there in our economy that allows it to operate, we will be more prescriptive in our guidance going forward.”

The governor also announced that the state is going to dramatically expand testing. Via “Project Catapult,” a partnership between Sonora Quest Laboratories, PerkinElmer, Inc., and Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), the state has set a goal of 35,000 tests per day by the end of July and 60,000 tests completed per day by the end of August. Read more about the partnership here.

ADHS and Arizona State University (ASU) announced another new partnership today that will increase COVID-19 diagnostic testing in Arizona. ASU will launch several testing sites that will provide free saliva diagnostic testing for COVID-19 in high-need underserved communities around the state. The testing will begin this Saturday, July 11, in the West Valley. Additional sites and days will be added, with ongoing testing taking place over the next couple of months.

The governor stated that there was no need to pre-register for an appointment; however, a press release also issued by the governor’s office today states that “tests are by appointment only.” Residents can find more information on testing sites and registration requirements by visiting azhealth.gov/testing. Find more information about the partnership with ASU here.

Gov. Ducey closed his comments by stating, “We are going to be living with the virus for the foreseeable future.” He encouraged residents to continue to maintain physical distance and wear a mask when in public, and, as always, to wash their hands. |CST


For additional COVID-19 information and resources, visit the ADHS website.

Read Executive Order 2020-47 here.

Watch the July 9 press conference here.

Arizona Governor Announces New Restrictions Amid Rise in COVID-19 Cases — Bars, gyms and other businesses to pause operations effective 8pm tonight

“Arm yourself with a mask. It’s your best defense against this virus.” — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey

At a press conference this afternoon, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced new statewide restrictions as positive COVID-19 numbers continue to rise.

Executive Order 2020-43: Pausing of Arizona’s Reopening — Slowing the Spread of COVID-19, includes pausing operations of bars, indoor gyms, fitness clubs or centers, indoor movie theaters, waterparks and tubing operations, effective 8pm tonight, June 29. The state has a “targeted” reopening date of July 27.

The governor stated that, “This will help relieve stress on our health care system and give time for new transmissions to slow.”

Today’s announcement stated that in order to reopen, the establishments must attest to and adhere to all public health regulations, and post it for the public to see. The governor said that enforcement will be led by local public health officials and local authorities.

The Executive Order also limits mass gatherings.

“Effective June 29, 2020, organized public events of more than 50 people are prohibited unless the city, town or county in unincorporated areas has approved the event, and only if adequate safety precautions are implemented, including physical distancing measures.”

Guidance is also offered for public and private pools. Read the full Executive Order here: https://azgovernor.gov/sites/default/files/eo_2020-43.pdf

Also issued today is Executive Order 2020-44: Protecting Public Health for Students and Teachers. The Order delays the start of in-person classes for the school year that begins July 1 until Aug. 17, “but schools may begin the school year on their regularly planned start date prior to August 17, 2020 through distance learning.”

The governor stressed that Aug. 17 is an “aspirational” date and that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman continues to work with district superintendents and other stakeholders on plans to educate students safely this school year.

Read the full Executive Order here: https://azgovernor.gov/sites/default/files/eo_2020-44.pdf

Dr. Cara Christ, director of Arizona Department of Health Services, provided updated guidance for Independence Day, encouraging residents to celebrate with “immediate household or daily contacts” and to protect vulnerable family members and friends by sharing time virtually.

She also shared that the state is partnering with Banner Health and Arizona State University**, among others, to increase availability and timeliness of testing statewide.

Also announced today, by the end of this week, the state will have in place a program to provide access to masks for every Arizonan.*

Ducey closed the press conference with this reminder: “Arm yourself with a mask. It’s your best defense against this virus.”

WATCH today’s press conference in its entirety here. |CST


[*This story is developing and will be updated.]

[** Link updated July 9, 2020.]

Local Apparel Company Lucia & Marie Now Offering Handmade Face Masks

Photo courtesy of Lucia & Marie

Lucia & Marie is a clothing brand made in Arizona. Cindy Lonnstrom, owner, operates an online Etsy shop for accessories and “fur baby” apparel. Although, currently, she is creating handmade face masks and is selling the products within the U.S.

“Since the quarantine period began, I started selling handmade face masks to consumers and donating some to medical professionals who were looking to preserve their N95 masks,” said Lonnstrom. “With the understanding that handmade cotton face masks are not medical-grade or FDA approved masks. When a consumer buys two, we gift one to healthcare workers fighting to save lives of patients with COVID-19.”

For additional information, call 480.479.5057, visit luciaandmarie.com or find the boutique on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Board Approves Mask Regulations in Maricopa County Due to Community Spread of COVID-19

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved mask regulations Friday, June 19, to “create consistent minimum mask-wearing requirements across all jurisdictions while allowing cities and towns to set their own policies and regulations related to face coverings.”

“We know thousands of people move through different cities and towns in Maricopa County every day,” said Board of Supervisors chairman Clint Hickman.  “The regulations are based on the recommendations of our Public Health Department and they give residents an understanding of the rules no matter where they are within the County.”

The Board recognized that some cities and towns have already passed proclamations and emergency orders, and says that this County regulation does not interfere with those local decisions. Board members say they hope other governments will take advantage of the expertise from Public Health and create consistent rules in their communities.  Some highlights from the regulations include:

  • People older than six must wear masks in enclosed public spaces (where 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained)
  • Adults with children 2 to 5 years old must make reasonable effort to make them wear masks inside enclosed public spaces
  • All riders and operators on public transportation must wear a mask
  • Staff working in public spaces (such as restaurants or stores) must wear masks

“We are hoping residents and cities and towns will partner with us during the pandemic,” added Hickman.  “We have seen more than 60% of total cases in the past three weeks.  This will not stop unless the public consistently takes action to prevent the spread.”

The regulations include exemptions from wearing masks that include:

  • The regulations do not apply to people in homes
  • Children under 2 years old
  • Restaurant patrons while they are eating and drinking
  • People walking or exercising outdoors (while maintaining six feet of distance)
  • When in a personal vehicle, office or other personal space

Enforcement is the responsibility of law enforcement and per the governor’s executive order 2020-40, it should focus on educating the public about the dangers of community spread.  An officer should promote best public health practices and provide a warning, but if a person refuses to put on a face covering again, they can face a fine of not more than $50.

This regulation goes into effect at midnight Saturday, June 20, 2020.

Read the regulations requiring face coverings in Maricopa County.

CVS Health Expands Arizona COVID-19 Testing — Partners with St. Vincent de Paul clinic to address needs of underserved communities

As positive COVID-19 case numbers continue to increase across the state, CVS Health announced today that they are expanding their COVID-19 testing program with 14 additional test sites at select CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations across the state. The opening of additional test sites Friday, June 12, add to the 35 locations previously opened by CVS Health across Arizona.

A complete list of CVS Pharmacy drive-thru test sites can be found here.

CVS Health provided these details about the drive-thru testing:

  • The new sites will utilize self-swab tests and will help enable the company’s goal processing up to 1.5 million tests per month, subject to availability of supplies and lab capacity.
  • Self-swab tests will be available to individuals meeting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, in addition to state and age guidelines.
  • Patients must register in advance at CVS.com beginning Friday, June 12, to schedule an appointment.
  • There are no out-of-pocket costs for these tests for both insured and uninsured patients.
  • Patients will be required to stay in their cars and will be directed to the pharmacy drive-thru window or a location in the parking lot at a few stores, where they will be provided with a test kit and given instructions.
  • A CVS Pharmacy team member will observe the self-swab process to ensure it is done properly. Tests will be sent to an independent, third-party lab for processing and the results will be available in approximately three days.

Additionally, St. Vincent de Paul announced Tuesday, June 9, that it has launched rapid COVID-19 testing with CVS Health at the nonprofit’s Virginia G. Piper Medical & Dental Clinic for the uninsured in Phoenix. Licensed health care providers from MinuteClinic, the retail medical clinic of CVS Health, and CVS Pharmacy colleagues are staffing the new testing operation.

Testing at St. Vincent de Paul’s clinic, located at 420 W. Watkins Road in Phoenix, will be free and open to the public by appointment only. Patients will need to pre-register in advance by calling 602.850.6940 to schedule a same-day time slot for testing. A personal vehicle is not required for testing and results will be provided on-the-spot. To be eligible for testing, patients will need to meet criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in addition to age guidelines.


Photos courtesy of CVS Health

Eye Care During These Surreal Times

By Stephen Cohen, O.D.

Many people have delayed getting their eyes examined during this time, whether it is due to avoiding going out, other priorities or work situations. Many eye doctors have closed their offices during this crisis. In some parts of the country (e.g., New Jersey), eye care practitioners are only permitted to see true eye emergency patients or face State Board disciplinary action. Fortunately, it is not that drastic here in Arizona and in many other places.

Here are a few facts and recommendations as we work through this crisis. I will base some of the information on how our office is working with our patients, and you can check with your regular eye doctor to see what their procedures are right now.

First, there is a form of conjunctivitis (inflammation of the white part of the eye) that has been associated with COVID-19. It is not among the most common signs of the disease, and there are many other causes of red eye besides this specific virus, so don’t panic if your eyes get red. When you call, your eye doctor’s office will likely ask if you have other symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, etc.) to see if it is OK for you to be seen in their office. If you do show other symptoms, or if you are just not comfortable going out, they, like us, might offer “virtual consultations” through telemedicine (text, photos, videos, FaceTime, Zoom), where a diagnosis could be determined and a treatment plan put in place without you having to leave your home. We have been encouraging all patients with eye emergencies to avoid emergency rooms and Urgent Care centers so that their resources can focus on people who might be sick from the virus and to help protect you from possible exposure to people who might be sick from the virus. Your eye doctor, like us, may also have an after-hours emergency system where they can be paged. Over the past month, I have met numerous patients at my office over the weekend with serious eye problems like sudden retinal detachments and strokes in the eye, issues that cannot wait until this crisis passes. If you have something sudden and dramatic, do not delay…call!

Your doctor might be willing to extend out expiration dates on ocular medications and contact lenses. We are refilling medication requests and are extending contact lens expiration dates as well as shipping a supply of contact lenses directly to patients, with no charge for shipping. As far as contact lenses are concerned, the CDC has determined that contact lens use during this crisis is still acceptable. Just make sure you wash your hands before and after insertion of contact lenses. While routine eye care can be delayed for now, we are “triaging” each patient who calls to determine when it would be best to schedule their appointment. Your eye doctor may be doing the same, so they may be available for more than just true emergencies.

All of our lives have been drastically impacted during this crisis. It is hard to fully grasp how different life is now than it was just two months ago. We all believe this will pass, and there will be changes in our day-to-day existence. Hopefully, many will be for the better. Stay safe!


Dr. Stephen Cohen has been in private practice in Scottsdale since 1985. His office motto is, “Where modern technology meets old-fashioned care,” and he provides eye care from infants to seniors.  He can be reached at 480.513.3937 or by email at stephen.cohen@doctormyeyes.net.  His website is www.doctormyeyes.net.


ID 4179509 © Retina2020 | Dreamstime.com

Nicole Anne Yoga Offers Discount on Virtual Holistic Wellness Programs

Nicole Fonovich, owner, Nicole Anne Yoga

During the month of April, Nicole Anne Yoga — a mobile yoga and holistic wellness company — is offering private, one-on-one holistic offerings virtually for 50 percent off. Some of the holistic offerings include: Life coaching, nutrition coaching, Reiki, hypnotherapy, integral breath therapy and Neuro-Emotional Technique (N.E.T.)

In a time of home quarantining, Nicole Anne Yoga offers a way to connect with a caring, certified holistic practitioner whose goal is to help residents feel happier and healthier.

To learn more, visit www.nicoleanneyoga.com.

Agency on Aging Responds to Increase in Calls for Assistance During Coronavirus Pandemic — Provides Tips on Staying Connected

Pictured: Regan Smith and Scott Hawthorne; photo courtesy of Area Agency on Aging

As of March 27, the Area Agency on Aging’s professional staff responded to 8,126 calls, 86 percent related to food, that have come into the 24-hour Senior Help Line, an increase of 257 percent over the previous nine days.

In response to those calls, the agency’s staff and 35 volunteers and AmeriCorps members delivered 420 food boxes provided by St. Mary’s Food Bank, 32 food bags filled by Area Agency staff and 500 sack lunches provided by CSAA Insurance Group.  In addition, 107 callers were referred to senior centers for grab-and-go meals or to Meals on Wheels for delivery.

“Our team has been working around the clock to ensure that seniors in our community have the food and nourishment they need at a time when it’s more difficult than ever for them to get to a grocery store. These numbers don’t reflect referrals that have been to other services and resources that are so important to their health and well-being,” said Area Agency on Aging president and CEO Mary Lynn Kasunic.  “It has been an effort driven by an incredible commitment to the clients we serve every day.  In fact, our staff has been bringing in extra cans of food that they purchase on their own when they go shopping for themselves.”

Kasunic said that, “St. Mary’s Food Bank has been a tremendous partner in our outreach, and supplying food pallets every day based on our needs.”

During the nine days prior to March 18, the Senior Help Line responded to 2,091 calls, 25 percent of which were related to food, Kasunic said.

The Senior Help Line (602.264.HELP (4357) or Toll Free at 888.783.7500) is a 24-hour information and assistance resource and central intake for the Area Agency, helping seniors navigate a diverse range of resources.

Among the services are information on benefits including Medicare counseling, family care giving support, legal assistance and links to a variety of other resources that help older adults.

While the help line is always available to Valley seniors, the Agency reminds residents that it is also important to check in on older family, friends and neighbors.

“Isolation at any time can be very difficult for people of all ages, particularly for older adults, but especially during this uncertain time as we try to navigate through unchartered territory,” said Kasunic. “That’s why maintaining consistent contact with older adults who may be isolated or facing isolation is critically important.”

She suggests staying connected in the following ways:

  • Call on a regular basis
  • Connect with friends and family to set up a “call tree” so they hear from several people at various times
  • Offer to deliver food or medicine
  • Use technology if possible — emails, FaceTime, Facebook
  • Encourage them to reach out and ask for assistance

Kasunic said that the Senior Help Line also can provide information about volunteer opportunities for those who may be interested. For more information, visit www.aaaphx.org.

Arizona Public Health Officials Update Community Transmission Level of COVID-19

Residents asked to take precautions and practice social distancing

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has updated the community transmission level of COVID-19 in Arizona to widespread. Widespread transmission indicates that cases have been confirmed in 12 or more counties throughout the state. As of March 26, Arizona has confirmed 508 cases in 13 counties. There have been 8 deaths reported due to COVID-19.

“Given widespread transmission, all Arizonans should expect that COVID-19 is circulating in their community,” said Dr. Cara Christ, ADHS Director. “COVID-19 is a serious disease that is highly contagious and can be fatal in anyone, especially our elderly population and people with underlying health conditions. Protecting those at highest risk of complications and ensuring that our healthcare system is prepared to deal with a surge in cases is our highest priority. It is imperative that everyone takes precautions to protect themselves and their family from this disease.”

The best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

COVID-19 spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms are thought to appear within two to 14 days after exposure and consist of fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing. For people with mild illness, individuals are asked to stay home, drink plenty of fluids and get rest. For people with more severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath, individuals are advised to seek healthcare.

ADHS activated its Health Emergency Operations Center Jan. 27 after the first case of travel-associated COVID-19 was confirmed in Arizona. The Health Emergency Operations Center remains open to coordinate the State’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. For more information about the COVID-19 response in Arizona, go online to azhealth.gov/COVID19.

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources to Know & Updates From North Valley Municipalities

TOWN OF CAREFREE

With the recent cancellation of sporting events, concerts and other community events the concerns regarding the coronavirus is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  There are a number of resources which can give you up to date information on the evolving circumstances related to the virus and what to do to protect you and your family.  Please share these resources with your family, friends and neighbors. 

For important information, including travel advisories:
www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html

For specific questions, see the CDC’s FAQ section:
www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

For Arizona:
https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/index.php#novel-coronavirus-home

For information about COVID-19 in each state, search each state’s health department, which works with the CDC to monitor and implement all recommendations:
www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/healthdirectories/healthdepartments.html

For up-to-date developments, research, and guidance from government health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO), go to:
www.idsociety.org/public-health/Novel-Coronavirus


TOWN OF CAVE CREEK

The Town of Cave Creek has issued a statement about the situation and will keep the community informed with updates as we receive them from federal, state and county officials. Read the full statement on our website at https://tinyurl.com/vtphfy8.


CITY OF PHOENIX

Mayor Gallego Statement on Phoenix Response to COVID-19

March 12, 2020 PHOENIX- The City of Phoenix is in regular communication with all appropriate emergency response agencies to ensure we are working together to limit exposure to COVID-19 in Arizona. This collaboration allows the city to implement safety protocols that are based on facts and to pass along updates, so that employees and residents can make informed decisions.

The city has two main goals–to keep the public safe and accurately informed and ensure flexibility to monitor this fast-moving situation. Phoenix will be providing regular updates to both city residents and employees through our social media channels and Phoenix.Gov.

“Phoenix is working closely with the appropriate emergency response agencies to provide accurate and up-to-date information to our residents. Our goal is to alleviate fear and give residents the needed tools to best protect themselves and others,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.

City Plans

  • As of March 12, the City of Phoenix Water Department has halted all water shut-offs for non-payment to ensure residents have access to water for COVID-19 sanitation purposes. Those currently disconnected will be re-connected and receive low-flow water service adequate for sanitation and cooking.
  • We are coordinating closely with our Fire and Police Departments to ensure they have the resources they need.
  • The city is reviewing possible alternative options for upcoming public meetings and gatherings.
  • We are working with each of our city departments to determine possible telecommuting needs for city staff should the need arise. Work travel for city business has been greatly restricted for the time being. All staff who feel ill are asked to stay home.
  • City staff and custodial vendors have increased cleaning efforts in all city facilities, targeting surfaces like elevator buttons, handrails, bathroom handles, fixtures and doors.

Prevention Strategies

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds (or use hand sanitizer).
  • Stay home when you are sick. Consider using telemedicine if healthcare is needed.
  • Cover your cough/sneeze with elbow or tissue.
  • If you are sick and have traveled to impacted areas in the last 14 days, please call your healthcare provider.

To learn more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Frequently Asked Questions page at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

[Additional resources: https://www.phoenix.gov/newsroom/em-and-hs/866]


CITY OF SCOTTSDALE

Coronaviris update

The city continues to serve the public throughout situations like the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Scottsdale’s All Hazards Incident Management Team is a cross-functional group staffed by employees from throughout the organization who are meeting regularly to share current information and ensure that city staff and the public are protected, and that city operations continue despite any interruptions that could occur. This team is in regular contact with partners at Maricopa County Public Health and the Arizona Department of Health Services, who are providing updated guidance as needed. Learn more: https://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/news/coronavirus-update.

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