Tempers are flaring and tensions growing as a state-imposed stay-at-home order moves into its second month. Governor Doug Ducey announced this week he would extend the existing order, with slight modifications, through May 15.
Pushback among still-shuttered business owners and libertarian-minded legislators was immediate. House Majority Leader Warren Petersen and Reps. Kelly Townsend and Mark Finchem were among lawmakers threatening a resolution to repeal the Governor’s order. On Friday, House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Senate President Karen Fann reportedly met with Governor Ducey to relay concerns from GOP members.
Meanwhile, a small but growing number of business owners are disregarding shutdown orders, and at least two rural sheriffs say they won’t enforce them. Nationally, public acts of protest and civil disobedience have intensified – especially in Michigan, where heavily armed demonstrators entered the Capitol building this week while legislators deliberated.
Against this fraught political backdrop, Governor Ducey is attempting to balance the dual interests of public health and the economy. By almost any measure, his efforts have kept the COVID-19 outbreak below model predictions and spared hospitals from being overrun. But the economic cost has been massive: The Eller College of Business at the University of Arizona expects the state unemployment rate to reach 19% by the 4th quarter of 2020..
Governor Ducey hosted a conference call with Arizona business leaders Thursday, and reiterated his intent to fully re-open the economy as soon as safely possible. But it’s also clear this is no ordinary emergency with a political solution. Re-opened businesses won’t necessarily stay that way. In the words of Dr. Fauci, “the virus kind of decides …”.
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TUCSON — Three truckloads carrying thousands of pounds of assorted fruits and vegetables made their way Wednesday from the U.S.-Mexico border to three Indian communities in northern Arizona to help feed families struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arizona National Guard members loaded the donated produce Wednesday morning from a warehouse in Nogales, then drove the three refrigerated trucks up north. The trio was destined for the Navajo, Hopi and White Mountain Apache tribes in northeastern Arizona.
Bruce Bracker, chairman of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors in Nogales, said it’s an example of Arizona rural communities looking after one another during a trying time.
Distributors of imported Mexican produce in Nogales donated the food, storage space and the refrigerated trucks to get the supplies to some of the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
“It shows the type of community we have in southern Arizona, especially the produce industry, that they’re willing to step up and help,” he said.
Working with Pima County Supervisor Sharon Branson, Bracker coordinated the distribution efforts, reaching out to their counterparts in northern Arizona counties to help set it up.
[…] Each year, millions of pounds of fresh produce imported from Mexico crosses through Nogales and heads to supermarkets all over the United States.
But in the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout has forced more families to seek help. Elected officials and produce industry leaders in Santa Cruz County acknowledged they were in a unique position to help.
In response to the emergency, they’ve helped set up produce distribution points in southern Arizona, targeting rural communities in the state that don’t have the same resources as big cities.
Allison Moore with the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas helped gather donated produce from the organization’s members, which includes growers and distributors in southern Arizona and northern Mexico.
“It’s just a good example of people working together to try to do what we can in the face of a really challenging situation,” she said. “It’s Arizonans helping other Arizonans.” […]
PHOENIX, Ariz — Small businesses are continuing to take a hit due to COVID-19 restrictions. But technical trouble haunted the Small Business Administration’s system for getting out loans, and added more strain to businesses desperate for funds.
An additional $310 billion dollars in funding was allocated for the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program, however, lenders across the country experienced issues as the portal opened Monday morning.
“The frustration is palpable” Paul Hickman, President & CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association said. “Our bankers are working in shifts around the clock because the system is open 24/7 to try to push through the applications they’ve got in their pipelines.”
Both Republic Bank of Arizona and Arizona Federal Credit Union tell 12 News they had issues submitting loans.
[…] Hickman said the technical problems appear to be smoothing out Wednesday, saying almost $90 billion of the second round of funding has been allocated, up from $52 billion Tuesday afternoon.
Hickman expects the funding will run out this week or early next week. […]
Elective surgeries are expected to resume Friday in Arizona with a prerequisite for patients: a negative COVID-19 test.
Officials with Banner Health, Valleywise Health, Mayo Clinic in Arizona, HonorHealth, Dignity Health and Steward Health confirmed with The Arizona Republic this week that patients having elective surgeries at their facilities must first test negative for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
[…] Other logistics for hospitals are keeping patients who aren’t infected with COVID-19 away from those who are. Banner Health is creating hospital entrances dedicated to surgical patients, and will have “COVID negative” post surgical areas where patients can recover.
An April 22 executive order from Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey lifts a ban on elective surgeries in Arizona, effective May 1, but every two weeks Ducey will review whether it needs to be repealed or revised. The ban has been in place for more than a month.
The ban is not lifted automatically. Hospitals, health care facilities, dental offices and other providers must meet certain criteria before they are allowed to perform surgeries again, including proving that they have more than a 14-day supply of personal protective equipment.
[…] An analysis by the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association in April found revenue losses of 30% to 40% at Arizona hospitals. Statewide, that equates to a revenue reduction of $430 million to $575 million per month. Association president Anne-Marie Alameddin on April 16 asked Ducey to relax the limits on elective surgeries, saying social distancing is working, and that hospitals need more latitude “to meet the growing patient demand for crucial medical procedures.” […]
Phoenix Business Journal
Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona has been approved as the first HealthyVerify Certified company in America, paving the way to open all 100 stores across the state.
This new HealthyVerify safety standards program was created by Jordan Rose and Court Rich of Rose Law Group, with the help of Arizona State University and Barrow Neurological Institute at Dignity Health’s St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. This protocol will help Goodwill and other employers reduce the risk of disease transmission at their stores while trying to instill confidence in employees and customers as it reopens.
Rose, founder of the Scottsdale law firm, said helping her clients get state and federal funding was not enough to assure their businesses would succeed into the future.
[…] HealthyVerify Certification program helps employers identify and implement procedures to reduce risks of spreading disease and inspects and confirms the implementation of these procedures. Certification will be renewed annually.
As the largest Goodwill in the nation, the local operation has counseled 11,000 people in its job training service during the past 30 days, a time frame when a typically Goodwill counselors would handle 400 people. Funding for the free service comes from retail thrift store sales.
While several Goodwill stores already are open across the state, more are set to re-open this week, opening an hour earlier for shoppers aged 55 and over. While marking checkout lanes to keep a six-foot separation between customers, Goodwill also is placing plexiglass “sneeze guard” partitions at check-out counters and limiting the number of customers allowed in each store at any given time. […]
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In other news …
PHOENIX – With COVID-19 causing a large number of Arizonans to work from home or attend school online, Attorney General Mark Brnovich advises Arizonans to use safe internet practices. With crooks and scammers busy trying to gain access to people’s computers and personal information through weak security measures, AG Brnovich offers the following common sense tips to help you, your business, and your family stay safe online.
Security for Online Meetings and Classrooms
Reports of hijacked or interrupted online meetings and classrooms have increased as more people work or attend class from home due to COVID-19. Some of these incidents have subjected participants to hateful or graphic language and images. Incidents such as these generally can be prevented by following some broad guidelines:
- Limit participation in virtual meetings and classrooms by using a password or a system that allows the meeting host to control who can participate.
- Keep meeting and classroom passwords and links private. Send log-in information directly to participants and don’t share log-in information on social media.
- Always use the most up-to-date version of software. Regularly check for software and security updates. […]
Personal Computer Security While Working or Attending Class Remotely
Exercising good security habits can make a substantial difference in maintaining security and privacy while working or attending class from home:
- Use reputable and up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software on all electronic devices connected to your network.
- Beware of the “tech support scam.”
- Do not take unsolicited phone calls from support personnel. […]
The FTC provides additional learning materials for parents and children about how to stay safe online:
[…] The Attorney General’s Office launched a COVID-19 webpage dedicated to providing consumers with the latest information on COVID-19 scams and frauds. […]
Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) announced Tuesday that he has launched an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination, his strongest indication yet that he will mount a third-party White House bid.
“Today, I launched an exploratory committee to seek the @LPNational’s nomination for president of the United States. Americans are ready for practical approaches based in humility and trust of the people,” Amash tweeted.
“We’re ready for a presidency that will restore respect for our Constitution and bring people together. I’m excited and honored to be taking these first steps toward serving Americans of every background as president,” he added.
The former Republican congressman has been toying for months with the prospect of waging a third-party campaign for the presidency and has come under an avalanche of pressure from Libertarians to throw his hat into the ring.
[…] Amash has centered his political career around libertarian values, advocating for less government intervention in daily life and sharp cuts in federal spending to offset an exploding deficit.
[…] Amash left the GOP last summer, accusing Republicans of abandoning fiscal conservatism and turning a blind eye to “misbehavior” to appease the president. […]