I’m putting on my Masters in Public Health hat today to talk with you about being safe during the novel Coronavirus outbreak.￼
Coronavirus testing is still low in the state of Arizona and across the country. Although the deaths and the numbers of confirmed cases keep rising, the slow roll-out of diagnostic testing masks the real spread of the virus.
I recorded the video (below) on March 24, when there were 326 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arizona. Twenty-four hours later, when I drafted this blog post, there were 401 confirmed cases in Arizona. Today (March 26), there are 508 confirmed cases and eight deaths. Maricopa County is racking up 50 new confirmed cases per day this week. For several days, Arizona had one new death per day; now that rate is also increasing. Friends, this is serious.
There is a lot of news, data, and information out there about COVID-19, but there is also a lot of misinformation and flawed analyses of the epidemiological data. Check the sources before you believe the message. (I have linked resources below.)
Here are a few key public health points to remember …
– Please practice social distancing. Don’t go out in public, to work, to school, or to the store unless you have to. Consolidate grocery shopping and try to do once a week. Now, I sound like an old school Home Ec teacher, but having a shopping list and planning meals ahead helps a lot. Some retail stores have hand-washing stations outside and are controlling entry to maintain social distancing inside. This is a good idea, but, friends, if you don’t really need to run out and buy something, stay home.
– Stay home and stay safe. Whether you are sick or healthy, staying at home is the most important thing you can do limit COVID-19 exposure and spread. People can be mostly asymptotic but still infect others around them unknowingly. If you are over 60 and/or have preexising health conditions, particularly impaired lung function, you are at higher risk than the rest of the population.
– Work from home. If you have the option to work from home or take classes from home, do it.
– If you have to go to work, be safe. If you have to interact with the public in your work, please follow all safety precautions. Ask your employer for gloves and other protective equipment.
– Know the symptoms of the novel Coronavirus and how it is different from a cold or the flu. Difficulty breathing, fever, and cough two to 14 days after exposure could be COVID-19.
– Testing is limited. Even if you have symptoms, testing is limited. Banner Health Systems has set up drive-through screening, but you have to call first to be prescreened (1-844-549-1851). You can also call Arizona’s 2-1-1 information line to learn about Coronavirus. The low testing rates and subsequently modest number of confirmed cases clouds the real extent of the pandemic nationwide. This is dangerous because some people will not heed the public health warnings if they are misled into thinking they are invincible.
– Governments Respond. There have been multiple executive orders from the federal and the state; it is hard to keep up. Both the federal and state governments have hurriedly passed laws to make money, services and related websites available to fight COVID-19.￼ Unfortunately, with such speed, there are likely to be overlaps and gaps in the government response. We are obviously seeing this with the low testing rates and the calls for more personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.
– Resources are available. Multiple strategies have been proposed and passed into law to help people with wages and housing if they can’t work during the Coronavirus emergency. (There are some links below. Arizona House Democrats are compiling more information; look for updates.)
– This will get worse before it gets better. If too many politicians, governments and people continue to be cavalier about the novel Coronavirus, the death tolls in the US could be staggering as hospital personnel, equipment and beds become scarce.
We’ll get through this as a country, but we won’t be the same on the other side. The novel Coronavirus has already shown us how shortsighted it is to have a globalized supply chain and work force, just-in-time operations, and a focus on corporate profits over public health, public service and public education.
Sending love, hope and health to all of you. Please stay safe and be kind … especially to your family members, while you are sheltering in place. We’re all in this together.
TUCSON/PIMA LOCAL INFORMATION & UPDATES
Pima County Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – includes a wealth of information from outbreak statistics to public health links for a variety of services, here.
City of Tucson COVID-19 Update page – includes executive orders, information on city services and more, go here.
Arizona Daily Star (Tucson.Com) Coronavirus Updates – includes daily and hourly “what we know” updates, go here.
Tucson Coronavirus Update Facebook Page (Managed by the Tucson Sentinel.com) – includes news updates from the Tucson Sentinel, mixed with group member comments and other links. This page is heavily moderated to protect the integrity of the information and the tone of the discourse. No hate speech, trolls, or fake news allowed, go here.
Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak, go here.
Arizona Department of Health Services – includes state related information about Coronavirus in Arizona, the daily outbreak statistics, and information on testing, go here.
Telephone hotline: 1-844-542-8201
Banner Health Systems Coronavirus Testing Information – to be screened for drive-through testing, go here.
Telephone hotline for testing: 1-844-549-1851
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – federal information on the COVID-19 crisis, symptoms, and science, go here.
HOUSING, FOOD AND NECESSITIES
Arizona Food Bank Network – This site has many links for people seeking help during the Coronavirus cirsis. It also has a directory of food banks in Arizona, go here.
AZ Department of Economic Security (DES) Services – DES has set up a specific COVID-19 page with information and phone numbers. Please note that information for unemployment insurance benefits are provided on this website.
These services include unemployment insurance benefits, services for the developmentally disabled, the Arizona early intervention program, cash, medical and nutrition assistance (food stamps), child case assistance, short-term crisis service and mortgage assistance, go here.
Health-e-Arizona PLUS – Online application for nutrition assistance (food stamps), Medicaid (AHCCCS) and cash assistance, go here.
Health-e-Arizona Hotline: 1-855-432-7587
Arizona 211 – Arizona 211 has compiled a great list of resources in one place. Individuals can either call 211 from their phone or browse their website, go here.
Information Hotline: 2-1-1
Community Action Agencies (CAA) – CAAs offer a wide variety of services including rental assistance and general casework, go here.
The Senior Help Line – The Senior Help Line is the top resource for Arizona’s seniors and elderly. The hotline operates 24/7 and has a great library of resources to pull from, go here.
24/7 Senior Hotline: 602-264-4357
Utilities and bill pay – Many utilities are offering assistance with bills including delayed shut offs for people who can’t afford to pay. You will need to call each specific company and inquire about what may be available to assist you.
SRP – https://www.srpnet.com/about/customer-assistance.aspx– 602-236-8888
APS – https://www.aps.com/en/About/Our-Company/Our-Commitment-to-Safety/COVID-19 – 602-371-7171
Eviction assistance – The Arizona Department of Housing offers limited eviction assistance in certain zip codes, please refer to this website for further information, go here.
EDUCATION INFORMATION AND FOOD SERVICES THROUGH PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Public Schools – The AZ Department of Education has guidance for parents and schools on their website, go here.
ld9 School Districts…
Tucson Unified School District, go here.
Flowing Wells Unified School District, go here .
Amphi Unified School District, go here.
Catalina Foothills School District, go here.
ONLINE LEARNING RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES
Wonderopolis – Children’s learning website created by Education Solutions for Families invites children to explore intriguing questions about the world around us, go here.
Camp Wonderpolis – offers interactive STEM and literacy-building topics boosted by Maker experiments, go here.
National Center for Families Learning – free educational resources for families, go here.
Storyline Online – children’s stories read by famous people, a project of the Screen Actor’s Guild and the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), go here.
Go Noodle – physical activity and learning for children, go here.
Fordham Institute Resource for Learning from home, go here.
National Education Association Resources, go here.
Swing Education: 20 Online Learning Resources, go here.
Rep. PPH Updates & Videos Re: COVID-19
#Coronavirus Resources & Info: Keep Your Distance & Stay Healthy (video), March 25, 2020
Gloves & Hankies: Lessons from the 1918 Flu Pandemic (video), February 26, 2020