With #AZ #COVID19 Cases Now at 1157: #ItsTime for Statewide #StayAtHome Order (video)

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

The novel Coronavirus continues to run rampant across the United States and across the state of Arizona. Today, when I looked at the Arizona Department of Health Services website I saw that the number of confirmed cases in Arizona is now 1157, with 20 deaths. That’s 238 more new confirmed cases than yesterday. Remember, the state is adding hundreds of cases per day– despite low diagnostic testing rates.  You can check Arizona’s progress in the struggle against the Coronavirus here.

Last week, House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez sent a letter to Governor Doug Ducey asking him to call for a statewide stay at home order, as several mayors have done, including Tucson Mayor Regina Romero. It’s time for action.

Continue reading With #AZ #COVID19 Cases Now at 1157: #ItsTime for Statewide #StayAtHome Order (video)

Arizona’s Stumbling Response to #Coronavirus Will Cost Lives (video)

Arizona List Event in Tucson, March 7, 2020

It was Friday evening, March 27, when I recorded the video below. Governor Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ had just announced that they would de-prioritizing Coronavirus testing in a state with already dismal testing rates, a climbing infection rate, and no statewide shelter in place order. Four Democratic mayors Kate Gallego (Phoenix), Regina Romero (Tucson), Cora Evans (Flagstaff), and Ana Tovar (Tolleson) bravely bucked the governor and called for the shutdown of bars and restaurants in their cities. Now LD11 Senator Vince Leach is threatening Evans and the City of Flagstaff with an SB1487 preemption challenge because their rule is more restrictive than Ducey’s executive order. Seriously, Leach? You’re more concerned about power and politics– than you are about widespread disease and death?

This is crazy. As they say, you can’t make this sh*t up. 

Due to our country’s slow response and early denial of the pandemic’s severity, the US is now the worldwide epicenter for Covid19, and New York City is epicenter of the epicenter. Yikes. Arizona’s recent decision to downplay the lack of Coronavirus testing is troubling and dangerous to the public’s health.

Continue reading Arizona’s Stumbling Response to #Coronavirus Will Cost Lives (video)

#Coronavirus Resources & Info: Keep Your Distance & Stay Healthy (video)

Coronavirus

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.

RESOURCE LINKS

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.

 

HEALTH INFORMATION

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

#AZ Legislature Passes ‘Skinny’ Budget with #Bipartisan #Coronavirus Plan (video), March 24, 2020

#AZHouse Republicans Push ‘Skinny’ Budget with Little Attention to #Coronavirus (video), March 23, 2020

#AZHouse OK’s Remote Voting for Members, #AZLeg Remains Open (video), March 19, 2020

Democrats Push for #Coronavirus Crisis Response Plan in Budget (video), March 19, 2020

#Arizona Steps Up #Coronavirus Response with Emergency Declaration & $55 million (video), March 15, 2020

#AZLeg Should Add Coronavirus Prevention & Control to Budget (video), March 9, 2020

COVID-19: Businesses… Please… Encourage Sick Workers to Stay Home (video), March 3, 2020

Gloves & Hankies: Lessons from the 1918 Flu Pandemic (video), February 26, 2020

COVID-19 NEWS & TRACKING

Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak

 

#AZ Legislature Passes ‘Skinny’ Budget with #Bipartisan #Coronavirus Plan (video)

Leader Charlene Fernandez

With the novel Coronavirus pandemic swirling around the Arizona capital and, most likely, through the halls of the legislature, the Arizona House passed the skinny budget with the Senate-negotiated bipartisan package to address the pandemic in Arizona.

The budget includes $50 million to address the Coronavirus. Along with the emergency response funding of $55 million for the Arizona Department of Health Services, which was passed by the Legislature a couple of weeks ago, that makes $105 million, which the Legislature has earmarked for the Coronavirus reponse. The additional $50 million, which was part of the Senate plan, goes to the governor, and he has flexibility on how to spend it and IF it should be spent.

This is a good first step, but some of us think that the House Democratic amendments would have fleshed out this plan a bit more. For example, there were Coronavirus Crisis Response Plan amendments to give $10 million to the food bank system, $40 million to the Housing Trust Fund (to help with rent, mortgage payments and eviction prevention), funds to expand TANF to five years and increase the amount per month (which is now set at 36% of the 1992 poverty rate), and funds to increase unemployment compensation, which, of course, is one of the worst in the country at ~$240/week.

None of these specifics got into the budget. We will have to watch Governor Ducey and what he does with his flexibility on spending the funds we have allotted. No one knows exactly what the future will bring, so some flexibility is a good thing.

The legislature adjourned until April 13, three weeks from now. Who knows where we will be in three weeks. As of today, March 24, 2020, Arizona has 326 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and five deaths. Two weeks ago, the number jumped from six cases to nine. Almost 100 confirmed cases were added between yesterday and today.

Continue reading #AZ Legislature Passes ‘Skinny’ Budget with #Bipartisan #Coronavirus Plan (video)

Democrats Push for #Coronavirus Crisis Response Plan in Budget (video)

Arizona House Democratic Caucus, 54th Leg.

Things are moving fast at the Arizona Capital regarding the FY21 budget and a recess or sine die for the Legislature.

You may remember that last week the legislature passed a continuation of the Arizona Department of Health Services, and it included $55 million to fight the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Three options are swirling around the capital this week. There is talk about passing a “skinny budget” which would have only a few minor changes from the current fiscal year budget. There are three options: pass a skinny budget, recess for a while, and come back to everything this is on the table; pass the skinny budget and sine die (end the session); or pass the skinny budget with language about how to spend the $55 million in Coronavirus funds and sine die.

The House Democrats brainstormed about ideas and legislation to fight the spread of the Corona virus and to help people and businesses impacted by the shutdown.  Our full Coronavirus Crisis Response Plan is below. This plan was crafted into budget amendments by our staff.

We could pass the skinny budget and end the session as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18. Stay tuned. Headed for the capital now. We have some Floor votes this afternoon. [Posted on Facebook on March 17, 2020.]

Continue reading Democrats Push for #Coronavirus Crisis Response Plan in Budget (video)

#Arizona Steps Up #Coronavirus Response with Emergency Declaration & $55 million (video)

Arizona House

A week ago, on Monday, March 9, I urged for the state of Arizona to make a serious financial investment in prevention and control of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

On Tuesday, March 10, several House Democrats met to discuss prevention, control, treatment, and economic strategies to combat the Coronavirus in Arizona. Later that day, the House Democratic Leadership met with Governor Doug Ducey’s staff, urged appropriation of significant funds to get ahead of the outbreak, and discussed House Democratic Caucus ideas.

On Wednesday, March 11, Ducey declared a state of emergency in Arizona, hours after health officials announced the ninth case in Arizona and the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. At that point, there were three cases in Maricopa County, five in Pinal and one in Pima.

On Thursday, March  12, our first vote of the day was to suspend the rules and pass SB1051 to continue the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and appropriate $55 million from the Rainy Day Fund to ADHS to fight COVID-19. Any funds that are unspent at the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2021) will go back to the Public Health Emergency Fund. In addition, KTAR reported that the federal government had promised $12 million for Arizona.

Continue reading #Arizona Steps Up #Coronavirus Response with Emergency Declaration & $55 million (video)

COVID-19: Businesses… Please… Encourage Sick Workers to Stay Home (video)

Today’s video is a throwback to 2016. Jim shot this video of me testifying in front of the Tucson Mayor and City Council about the importance of paid sick leave and staying home when you are sick.

Much to my employees’ surprise when I was program director of the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline, I told everyone, “Don’t come to work sick. If you do, I will send you home.” Everybody had paid sick leave. I wanted them to use it to get well. The Helpline was a much healthier place after I gave everyone “permission” to stay home and take care of themselves.

When people come to work sick, they infect customers and co-workers. When people stay home sick, they get better faster and don’t infect everyone else. Just think of how many people a sick fast food worker, cashier, caregiver, bank teller, or customer service person can infect per day. This is how disease spreads throughout the population.

Continue reading COVID-19: Businesses… Please… Encourage Sick Workers to Stay Home (video)

What Is the Cost? 18 Tax Giveaways Pass #AZ House Ways & Means (video)

Arizona's fiscal cliff

The sheer volume of tax credits, tax cuts, tax shifts, and miscellaneous tax giveaways in this Legislative session is mind boggling. Will the Arizona House pass one billion dollars in tax giveaways in 2020? It could happen. To say that this behavior is fiscally irresponsible is a gross understatement.

The House Ways and Means Committee has passed 18 tax giveaways in 2020, and those bills are now hitting the House floor for debate and votes. Six of the 18 already have passed the House: HB2355, HB2356, HB2293, HB2732, HB2778, and HB2779. (See descriptions below.) These six will eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue from the General Fund, and there are 12 more tax giveaways to be voted on. As noted in previous blog posts, these tax giveaways primarily benefit large corporations– like Microsoft, APS, TEP, SRP, SW Gas– specific business groups or industries, and wealthy Arizonans.

It is often said that a budget is a moral document. In our state budget, the Legislature supports corporations and wealthy Arizonans with never-ending, multi-year tax giveaways, that often have inflation adjusters. Arizona wouldn’t have an affordable housing problem, crumbling infrastructure, and grossly underfunded education system if the Legislature had long-term plans and multi-year, inflation-adjusted budgets to address those problems. Instead, programs and services that benefit the people of Arizona are lucky to get one-time funding and beg for more each year (or pass citizens initiatives).  We don’t have a budget surplus; we have chronically underfunded programs.

Continue reading What Is the Cost? 18 Tax Giveaways Pass #AZ House Ways & Means (video)

#AZLeg: Look Beyond Tax Credits & Take Comprehensive Approach to Housing (video)

Trailers in Midtown Tucson

There are multiple reasons why Arizona has an affordable housing crisis. Chronically low wages; years of under-funding social safety net programs; high student loan, credit card or medical debt; and aggressive evictions have forced far too many Arizonans to live with housing insecurity.

Wages in Arizona are 85% of the national average. Only 6% of Arizonans who are eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) actually get it. In Pima County, the eviction rate is 30 per day– that’s roughly 1000 per month. 

To use a medical analogy, HB2732 (affordable house tax credits) treats the symptoms of the affordable housing crisis– not the disease. The disease is poverty. 

Continue reading #AZLeg: Look Beyond Tax Credits & Take Comprehensive Approach to Housing (video)

With #HB2872, #AZGOP Uses #ALEC Legislation to Attack Labor Unions (video)

Writers Union joins ASARCO picket

Arizona Republicans are on the attack in 2020. We have heard anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-voter, and anti-immigrant legislation so far, and now to round out the set– we have anti-union legislation. Today’s featured bad bill is HB2872 proposed by Majority Leader Warren Petersen. It is an anti-union model bill from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Unions are private organizations, and this bill puts unnecessary, burdensome regulation and reporting requirements on unions that are not required of any other businesses. In fact, when I read HB2872, I thought, “Gosh, I would love to have this level of cost-benefit analysis reporting from my private insurance company regarding their profits and losses, salaries, and how much they actually spend on my care, compared to how much I pay.” But they aren’t required to do that.

HB2872 is national, model legislation that is duplicative and unnecessary because the reporting is already required by the federal government, and it is published online– for everyone to see. So, why is this bill necessary?

Continue reading With #HB2872, #AZGOP Uses #ALEC Legislation to Attack Labor Unions (video)