Northern Cochise Community Hospital has suspended visits
As of 9 p.m. Friday night, NCCH is no longer be allowing visitors to the hospital and emergency department. Pediatric patients presenting to the ED will be allowed one visitor. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, please call your primary care provider for initial screening and treatment.
Arizona schools to remain closed until at least April 10
Governor Doug Ducey and Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced a two-week extension of school closures through Friday, April 10, 2020.
The governor has sent an open letter to Arizona families about the extension.
“Our goal is to get kids safely back in the classroom as soon as possible while providing parents and educators certainty so they can plan and make decisions,” Ducey said in a news release.
Additional information about meals for kids, childcare, special education considerations, learning resources for families and educators and more can be found at azed.gov.
In their letter, Governor Ducey and Superintendent Hoffman requested that schools continue to adhere to the following measures:
- School administrators should make every effort to provide continued education learning opportunities through online resources or materials that can be sent home.
- School administrators should work with the Arizona Department of Education to provide breakfast and lunch services for Arizona students.
- When school resumes, school administrators should develop and implement precautions to ensure schools are a safe learning environment, including social distancing measures, regular intervals for administrators to wash and sanitize their hands, and guidance on how to properly and frequently sanitize election equipment and common surfaces.
More information about COVID-19 can be found at azhealth.gov/COVID19.
School sports still off the table, for now
The Arizona Interscholastic Association announced Friday that due to Gov. Doug Ducey's decision to keep schools closed through April 10, AIA member schools must not take part interscholastic competition until further notified.
According to a news release, the spring sports championships are still not cancelled at this point. However, discussions for the administration of any postseason tournaments will not take place until after schools are back in session.
The AIA will continue to monitor the situation.
Cochise County has its first confirmed case of COVID-19
According to a news release, Cochise Health & Social Services received confirmation of the case from the Arizona Department of Health Services on Friday.
“We can confirm that a female adult has tested positive for COVID-19,” said Carrie Langley, the County’s Health Director. “Following domestic travel, she is self-isolating, managing her symptoms at home and is recovering from the illness.”
All direct and appropriate contacts with this individual will be investigated by the County’s epidemiologist team.
Governor Doug Ducey yesterday issued an Executive Order that requires restaurants, bars, movie theaters and gyms to close to the public in counties with confirmed cases. These businesses in Cochise County are now required to comply with the Governor’s directive.
Restaurants can provide dine-out options only and will be allowed to deliver alcoholic purchases with food deliveries.
“We can expect to see more cases in Cochise County and we would like to remind the public to continue to follow the Center for Diseases Control guidelines to wash their hands, don’t touch your face, practice self-isolation, and stay home if you or your family members are sick,” Langley added.
Willcox City Council closes rest of city facilities
The Willcox City Council voted unanimously during an emergency session Friday morning to close the rest of the city's facilities through April 5.
Willcox had already closed City Hall to walk-in traffic, but now Quail Park and the Willcox Community Center will be closed, too. Rodeos will also be postponed through that date. Keiler Park remains open but the ramadas may not be reserved.
Willcox City Manager Caleb Blaschke said the city gas company will not be charging late fees for utility payments. However, in all other regards the city’s utility companies will remain working as usual.
“Sometimes you have to do things that are not popular,” said Willcox Mayor Mike Laws, “But yesterday the governor told me, either you take control or I will.”
MVD now limiting office visits
The MVD is now limiting office visits to only those customers who need essential services that must be done in person.
According to a news release, beginning Monday appointments will be required for any in-office services. Walk-in customers will be directed to access services online or by phone, or if necessary, to make an appointment to return.
“These extraordinary measures are needed because the safety of MVD customers and employees is our first priority,” said MVD Director Eric Jorgensen.
Also, starting Monday a new statewide customer service phone call-in system at 602.712.2700 will begin operations between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Customers may set up office appointments for essential services that cannot be done on the phone.
According to the state, in most cases customers will be assisted with those services remotely.
A list of services that can be done entirely online can be found at ServiceArizona.com.
Safford Mayor tests negative for COVID-19, has pneumonia
With her permission, the Eastern Arizona Courier is sharing these Facebook posts of Maria Kouts, Safford Mayor Jason Kouts' wife:
Guess what??? NO COVID-19 IN OUR HOUSE! Jason was negative!! Still sick as a dog but NOT Corona Virus!!! Praise God!! Going in for a chest x-ray and such to see what’s going on...
Update on Jason. He has pneumonia. They’ve given him IV fluid, antibiotics, breathing treatment and ran panels of tests. Thank you for your love, amazing support and prayers! We’re certain he will be back to new in no time!
So much love for you all!!
Eastern Arizona College has cancelled its spring commencement
According to a Friday news release, EAC has decided to cancel graduation after consulting with health officials. In addition, they are implementing even more stringent social distancing policies.
“We regret that the Class of 2020 will not enjoy a traditional celebration with their classmates,” stated EAC President Todd Haynie. “We know how disappointing this decision will be to so many, but feel it is the responsible thing to do at this time. Our team is looking at alternate ways to celebrate our graduates’ achievements.”
More than 600 students graduated from EAC last year and the year before, said college spokesman Kris McBride.
EAC courses are still scheduled to move to remote learning when classes begin on Monday, March 30. Because each class is different, instructors will directly contact students to discuss how to make this successful for everyone.
Out of an abundance of concern, EAC encourages students, faculty, and staff to follow these guidelines:
- If students are home for spring break, they are encouraged to stay home. They should be prepared to start online learning from their permanent residences on March 30.
- If students live on-campus, but are not on campus at this point, they are encouraged to not return to campus to collect their belongings until April 2. Their belongings are secure.
- If students must remain on EAC’s campus in on-campus housing, they are to contact the Housing Office at (928) 428-8605.
- If any student, faculty, or staff member has experienced any COVID-19 symptoms, they are encouraged to not come to campus and contact their healthcare provider.
- If any student, faculty, or staff member has traveled to another country or state during spring break, self-quarantine is recommended for at least 14-days when they return.
In addition, out of an abundance of concern, EAC announces the following:
- Supervisors will coordinate flexible schedules when employees begin work on March 23.
- EAC Student Services Building will be closed to the public, but staff will still be available to help.
BLM waiving entrance fees
The BLM has joined the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in suspending entrance fees.
According to a Friday news release, other fees, such as overnight camping, cabin rentals, group day use, and use of special areas, will remain in effect.
“I’ve directed the Bureau of Land Management to waive entrance fees at recreation sites and national monuments that remain open. This small step makes it a little easier for the American public to enjoy the outdoors across the 245 million acres of public lands managed by the agency,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.
At a majority of BLM-managed locations where it is currently possible to adhere to public health guidance, outdoor spaces remain open to the public, while many facilities will be closed.
Health officials want people to:
• Maintain a safe distance between yourself and other groups
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
•Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
•Stay home if you feel sick.
Specifically, the CDC recommends high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, take extra precautions to be best protected against the spread of coronavirus.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska.
Number of state COVID-19 cases jumps to 63
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, as of Friday morning, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona is up to 63 from 44. The number of positive cases in Graham County remains at one. Greenlee and Cochise have zero cases, thus far.
Of the 63, 29 of the tests were performed at the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory. The other 34 were done at private labs.
There have been 343 people tested by the state, 211 people tested negative. Another 101 tests are pending, including those of Pima Elementary School children who were exposed to the virus last week by a staff member.
Graham County Health Department Director Brian Douglas said he should get results about three of the Pima kids' Saturday afternoon.
Willcox Historic Theater closed; workshop cancelled
Effective immediately, Willcox Historic Theater will be closed in accordance with Governor Ducey's Executive Order of March 19, due to the announcement of a confirmed COVID-19 case in Cochise County. The phone photography workshop scheduled for 6 pm today (Friday) is also cancelled.