May 8, 2020

Arizona coronavirus news in brief, May 8

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona: "Sanitation tunnels" in Sonora, hair salons reopening, 'testing blitz' part 2.

Arizona COVID-19 cumulative counts, July 7

Cases: 105,094 | Deaths: 1,927 | Diagnostic tests: 628,275
The state reported 3,653 more cases and 117 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 are for reported PCR tests and do not include antibody tests, unlike previous versions of this map. 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 Friday, May 8. For more coverage, visit our resource page. This story may be updated.

'Testing blitz' returns this weekend

AZPM, May 8

Part 2 of the Arizona COVID-19 "testing blitz" is Saturday, and there are more places in Pima County to get tested.

Doctor Sudah Nadalingam with El Rio Health says her clinic hopes to test 500 patients at three sites tomorrow, up from the 323 they saw last Saturday:

"We've fine-tuned our processes based on last week's agenda. So what we're going to do, we have more staff who're going to man the tents, we are starting earlier, from 7 [a.m.] to 12 [p.m.] so that we beat the Tucson heat."

All the testing sites from last week will be participating this Saturday. In addition, Banner-South on Country Club Drive will have drive-thru testing, and Fast Med Urgent care will have testing at two locations.

El Rio is only testing existing clients, and some of the other sites require pre-registration.

Find a list of testing sites here.

Top White House officials buried CDC report

AP, May 8

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The decision to shelve detailed advice from the nation’s top disease control experts for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic came from the highest levels of the White House.

That's according to internal government emails and documents obtained by The Associated Press. The files also show that after the AP reported Thursday that the document had been buried, the Trump administration ordered key parts of it to be fast-tracked for approval.

The emails show experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spending weeks working on guidance to help the country deal with the emergency, only to see their work quashed by political appointees with little explanation.

Learn more here.

Ducey issues reopening guidelines for barbershops, salons

AZPM, May 8

Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday issued guidance for barbers and cosmetologists who want to safely reopen for business.

Many in the industry had spent the week struggling to interpret the governor's executive order issued Monday allowing barbershops and salons to reopen Friday, May 8. The order specified those business provide face coverings for employees and customers, operate by appointment only and follow CDC guidelines.

And despite the new guidance, what counts as a requirement remains ambiguous.

Learn more here.

The Buzz: The world outside

May 8

Arizona has been under a stay-at-home order for more than a month. With so many stuck inside, this week's episode of The Buzz explores what's going on in the world outside. - Wall construction - Wildfire season - Staying active outdoors - Wildlife

Check out the show here.

Arizona still struggling to process unemployment claims

AP, May 8

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona’s social services agency is struggling to process a wave of unemployment claims that began when the coronavirus hit the state in mid-March.

The Department of Economic Security has hired hundreds of workers to process the nearly 514,000 claims. As of last week only 283,000 people were receiving benefits. That leaves out more than 230,000 residents who are either stuck in a backlog, been denied benefits or who fall into a new category of people that Congress said in March could receive benefits.

The state won’t start processing those claims until next week.

Read more here.

US unemployment surges to a Depression-era level of 14.7%

AP, May 8

WASHINGTON (AP) — The coronavirus crisis has sent the U.S. unemployment rate surging to 14.7%, a level last seen when the country was in the throes of the Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was assuring Americans that the only thing to fear was fear itself.

The Labor Department said Friday that 20.5 million jobs vanished in April in the worst monthly loss on record, triggered by the coast-to-coast shutdowns of factories, stores, offices and other businesses. The breathtakingly swift losses are certain to intensify the push-pull across the U.S. over how and when to ease the stay-at-home restrictions and the social-distancing rules. And they rob President Donald Trump of the ability to point to a strong economy as he runs for reelection.

Read more here.

Some blame meatpacking workers, not plants, for virus spread

AP, May 8

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As coronavirus hotspots erupted at major U.S. meatpacking plants, experts criticized extremely tight working conditions that made the factories natural high risk contagion locations.

But some Midwestern politicians have pointed the finger at the workers’ living conditions, suggesting crowded homes bear some blame. The comments include a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice’s remark that an outbreak didn’t seem to have come from “regular folks.”

Outraged employees and advocates call the comments elitist and critical of immigrants in the meatpacking workforce. The remarks came amid public gratitude for other essential workers like police officers, health care professionals and grocery store workers.

Read more here.

Nogales, Sonora, installs 'sanitation tunnels' at the border

Fronteras Desk, May 7

HERMOSILLO — The city of Nogales, Sonora, installed its first so-called “sanitation tunnel” Wednesday, just south of the Mariposa Port Of Entry in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus from the United States into Mexico.

Southbound travelers are being required to walk through the inflatable plastic tunnel to be sprayed with disinfectant.

Learn more here.

An active fire season could be in store for Arizona

AZPM, May 7

Arizona could be in for a doubly dangerous summer. Besides the coronavirus pandemic, the state may be facing a very active wildfire season.

The National Interagency Fire Center's forecast map shows Arizona with above-normal chance of wildfires from now through July. State fire management officer John Truett says grasses watered by abundant winter rain are now drying out and setting up a heavy fuel load.

Adding to concerns, state official says the coronavirus pandemic has complicated training efforts.

Read more here.

Senators seek suspension of new guest-worker visas

Fronteras Desk, May 7

PHOENIX — A group of Republican senators is pushing President Trump to expand his April proclamation to pause certain immigration.

The senators want a suspension of all new guest-worker visas, and they’re using the same reasoning Trump gave for the initial order.

Protect American workers by not making them compete for jobs with foreigners, says a letter to Trump signed by senators from Arkansas, Texas, Iowa and Missouri.

Read more here

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