May 4, 2020 / Modified may 5, 2020 4:16 p.m.

Arizona coronavirus news in brief, May 4

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona: Dine-in services returning, small nonprofits struggling, and more.

Arizona COVID-19 cumulative counts, Dec. 14

Cases: 420,248 | Deaths: 7,358
The state reported 11,806 more cases and 1 deaths on this day. Choose a Layerlayer and click on county for more.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: ADHS, county health departments, Census 2018 Quick Facts. *Test numbers and rates utilize total test numbers (diagnostic and serology). Cumulative totals are based daily numbers posted by the state. Daily changes don't necessarily reflect the previous 24 hours.

Select regional and national coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic as of Monday, May 4. For more coverage, visit our resource page. This story may be updated.

Ducey sets dates to open dine-in services, hair salons

AZPM, May 4

Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday announced dates for certain businesses to reopen and services to resume in an effort to get the economy moving following restrictions in place due to COVID-19.

Among the those was the announcement that dine-in services at restaurants could begin again starting Monday, May 11. Citing a downward trajectory of certain trends and an ongoing effort to expand testing in the state, the governor said barber shops and salons could reopen Friday, May 8. He said he’ll be working next with the fitness industry as well as hotels and motels.

Learn more here.

Small nonprofits struggling as need for services grows

AZPM, May 4

Arizona nonprofits are reporting a 20% increase in expenses, but a pandemic is a bad time to ask for donations.

In the best of times, many nonprofits operate on the edge. A 2018 survey by the Nonprofit Finance Fund found three quarters said they'd run out of cash within six months. Fundraiser cancellations have cost an estimated $40 million, according to a survey from the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits.

"That is the revenue that many nonprofits, especially smaller nonprofits, rely on for their general operating expenses throughout the year," said Tamara McKinney, communications director for the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona.

Learn more here.

Trump administration finalizes deal to send asylum seekers to Honduras

AZPM, May 4

Migrants who seek asylum in the U.S. can be sent to Honduras under a new agreement between the two countries.

The agreement is the latest in the Trump administration's so-called Asylum Cooperation Agreements. They aim to reduce U.S. migration by sending asylum seekers hoping to claim asylum in the U.S. to a Central American country to make claims instead.

But it’s unclear how it applies during the pandemic as Customs and Border Protection deports migrants in a matter of minutes under an emergency health protocol called Title 42. That protocol is in place until at least May 20.

Learn more here.

Arizona reports no new coronavirus deaths

AP, May 4

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona health officials are reporting 279 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths. It's the second consecutive Monday with no reported deaths, which likely reflects a reporting delay over the weekend.

The state Department of Health Services reported an uptick in testing, with more than 4,100 new tests. Officials say that does not fully reflect the results from a weekend testing blitz around the state.

Meanwhile, Gov. Doug Ducey's restrictions on businesses began to ease Monday as small retailers deemed nonessential were allowed to open for curbside service. Those businesses will be allowed to welcome customers inside starting Friday with social distancing and cleaning protocols.

Sonora implements electricity subsidy as temps rise amid pandemic

Fronteras Desk, May 4

HERMOSILLO — Sonorans are getting help with the high costs of electricity during the scorching summer months of May through October.

Gov. Claudia Pavlovich signed an agreement with the federal electricity commission subsidizing electricity bills in all 72 Sonoran municipalities.

This isn’t the first time the state has provided aid for summer electricity costs, but Pavlovich cited the coronavirus pandemic as an added incentive to provide financial relief this year — especially as families are being asked to spend more time indoors under the state’s strict stay-at-home orders.

The subsidy is expected to provide more than $20 million of relief to as many as 270,000 Sonoran families in the next six months, according to press release from the Governor's Office.

Reopening Arizona might be a long road, experts warn


PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has extended social distancing in the state to May 15 while allowing a limited expansion of retail operations and holding out hope for a May reopening.

But the state might have far to go before it is ready to reopen safely.

In his statement, Ducey lauded the value of social distancing and emphasized statewide progress in battling the coronavirus.

"The goal is that there will be no unpleasant surprises going forward, and we're going to follow the facts and CDC guidelines," he said.

But experts like Crystal Watson of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security say states have many hurdles yet to clear before they can safely reopen.

Learn more here.

TUSD postpones in-person graduation ceremonies till June

AZPM, May 2

Tucson Unified School District has postponed its in-person high school graduation ceremonies until June 17 and 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo announced in a Facebook video that he hopes moving the 2020 graduation date from May 21 will allow seniors to have an in-person graduation this summer. The new date will also allow students scheduled to graduate after completing summer classes to participate in the festivities.

Learn more here..

Zoos turn to social media to delight, raise money amid virus

AP, May 4

PHOENIX (AP) — The pandemic has jeopardized zoos worldwide that have been forced to close but rely on ticket sales.

The struggle has some zoos turning to social media to engage with people who can no longer visit and raise some much-needed cash. At the Phoenix Zoo, a sloth is appearing in personalized video clips that have gotten so popular they're now going for $50 a pop. Other zoos are starting online fundraising pages or selling subscriptions to behind-the-scenes videos of animals.

A smattering of zoos from Utah to Germany have started reopening with social distancing rules, but there’s no telling when they'll reach their usual levels of visitors and revenue.

Read more here.

2 Arizona sheriffs refuse to enforce a stay-at-home order

AP, May 3

PHOENIX (KTVK-TV) — Two Arizona sheriffs are refusing to enforce Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order as the state continues to deal with the coronavirus.

Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb both said they aren’t going to hand out fines, citations or arrest people who disobey the governor’s mandate that has been extended through May 15. Meanwhile, state health officials say Arizona now has 8,640 coronavirus cases.

The Arizona Department of Health Services also said Sunday that there were 362 known deaths around the state from COVID-19.

Report: Arizona lagging behind in per capita health spending

AP, May 3

PHOENIX (The Arizona Republic) — Arizona reportedly ranks as the third-worst nationally for the amount of money it spends on public health at $10 per person.

The State Health Access Data Assistance Center's analysis shows that only Missouri and Nevada spent less per capita. According to data from the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health, Arizona’s public health spending increased in 2019 to $15 per capita.

A state’s investment in public health isn’t the only measure of its ability to handle an emergency such as COVID-19. But some experts tell the Arizona Republic that it shows political foresight to invest up-front in an infrastructure the supports disease prevention, crisis preparedness and aims to end the health disparities.


Eateries open despite order to be reported to town attorney

AP, May 2

WICKENBURG, Ariz. (AP) — Police say two restaurants in a central Arizona community of Wickenburg that allowed people to eat in the establishments in violation of an order issued by Arizona’s governor to help stop the spread of the coronavirus will be reported to the town attorney for a decision on possible citations.

Police Lt. Kenny Lutkiewicz says both establishments that will be reported based on officers’ observations Saturday were on Friday presented copies of Gov. Doug Ducey’s order barring dine-in eating during the coronavirus pandemic. Lutkiewicz tells The Associated Press that nobody was arrested or issued a citation Saturday.

Read more here.

Planning process for Arizona's next school year underway

AP, May 2

Planning is underway for reopening Arizona’s public schools in the next school year and the state’s top education official says decisions and guidance will come soon.

Schools are closed for the rest of the current school year due to the coronavirus. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman told KJZZ that some districts start their school years as early as mid-July so “the next school year is really right around the corner."

Hoffman says her office aims to have a plan available for distribution by the end of May. Health officials say 348 people have died in Arizona and there have been more than 8,000 positive cases.

Read more here.

46 Arizona corrections employees test positive for virus

AP, May 1

PHOENIX (AP) — Officials say 46 state corrections employees in Arizona have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Arizona Department of Corrections had previously declined to specify how many workers had contracted the virus.

Twenty-four employees who tested positive have since recovered. The agency didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether any employees had died as a result of COVID-19. Last week, corrections officials declined to say whether any inmates who tested positive for the virus had died, even though medical examiners and a lawyer said three inmates had died. Corrections officials said Friday there have been four potential COVID-19 deaths among prisoners.

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