• The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona had topped 15,000 as of Friday, May 22, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Pima County had seen 1,974 of the state’s 15,606 confirmed cases. The coronavirus had killed 775 people statewide, including 174 in Pima County, according to the report. In Maricopa County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 7,950.
• Nationwide, more than 1.5 million people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which had killed nearly 95,000 people in the United States as of Friday, May 22, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University. The IHME model now predicts roughly 143,000 deaths in the United States by the beginning of August.
• The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 along party lines last week to revise the emergency health regulations they passed last week on party lines. The health regulations, related to the “best practices” strategies developed by the county’s Back To Business Task Force, came under fire from some members of the restaurant sector as well as local GOP state lawmakers, who asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich to look into whether the board was violating state law by enacting the regulations. Some of the most significant revisions include removal of the $500 civil penalty, allowing bartop seating as long as six-foot distancing requirements are met and nixing 50 percent occupancy guidelines if physical distancing allows for higher occupancy. While Supervisor Steve Christy warned that Brnovich could say the new regulations run afoul of Ducey’s order that local jurisdiction can’t enact emergency regulations more strict than state guidelines, county officials say they are on firm legal ground as they are fleshing out Ducey’s guidelines rather than expanding beyond them. Read more on the cover.
• The Arizona House of Representatives adjourned for the year last Thursday, May 21, after passing a handful of bills last week. The House resumed business Monday, May 18, after temporarily adjourning in mid-March. The Arizona Senate adjourned earlier this month but is expected to return in some form to transmit the House-passed bills to Gov. Doug Ducey for his signature or rejection. A special legislative session could happen later this year to deal with budget issues and other legislation related to COVID-19.
• Local high schools in the Marana Unified, Amphitheater, Flowing Wells and Catalina Foothills school districts held virtual, car parade or segmented graduation ceremonies over the last two weeks. Ceremonies generally consisted of small groups of students collecting their diplomas on stage in front of a limited number of attendees. Videos of such events are now live on district homepages and YouTube accounts.
• The Oro Valley Town Council hosted its first session on a completed parks and recreation needs assessment, a long awaited document intended to help the council invest in recreational services for the next five to ten years. The community input obtained for the report identified four key recreational amenities that residents in Oro Valley overwhelmingly want more of: open space conservation areas, hard and soft surface trails and swimming pools and splash pads. Read more about the report and council’s reaction in next week’s edition.
• Oro Valley’s Community and Economic Development Department is moving to a paper free world this month, the town announced the move Monday, partially as a reaction to the town’s COVID-19 procedures. The new process is in effect for all department functions, including permitting, inspections and planning. Staff will only handle paper submissions under unique circumstances. New submittals can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for right-of-way permits.
Additional reporting from Kathleen B. Kunz, Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner, Tara Foulkrod and Jim Nintzel