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As the COVID-19 outbreak spreads across Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered a halt to evictions in the state.

“Nobody should be forced out of their home because of COVID-19,” said Ducey in a prepared statement. “This order is about protecting public health and providing relief to families impacted by this virus—whether through sickness or economic hardship. This is the right thing to do to support Arizona families during their time of need and prevent the spread of COVID-19."

Last week, Pima County constables said they would cease delivering eviction notices until they received guidance from the state.

Ducey's order, which covers the next 120 days, comes as courts across the state reschedule hearings to slow the spread of the virus.

The Governor's Office highlighted housing assistance through the Arizona Department of Housing. The state's Save Our Home AZ program, Arizonans may qualify for principal r eduction assistance,

monthly mortgage subsidy assistance for under and unemployed Arizonans and secondary lien elimination assistance. For more details, call the Arizona Department of Housing between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at (602) 771-1000 or visit housing.az.gov/save-our-home.

Housing counselors are also available to answer questions about housing in Arizona at 1-877-448-1211.

As of today’s official count from the Arizona Department of Health Services, 326 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Arizona. There are 42 confirmed cases in Pima County.

One person in Pima County, a woman in her 50s with underlying health conditions, has died from the illnesses, which has killed a total five people statewide.

In Maricopa County, the number on confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to 199.

The rise in cases corresponds with increased testing for COVID-19 but health officials warn that far more people have likely been exposed to the virus. Symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear, so people can pass the virus without realizing they have been infected with it. Some people remain entirely asymptotic but are carriers.

Yesterday, Banner Health officials warned against self-medicating to prevent or treat COVID-19 after a couple in their 60s ingested chloroquine phosphate, a chemical used to clean fish tanks. The man died and the woman remains in critical condition.

President Donald Trump has hailed chloroquine, which is sometimes used to treat malaria, as a treatment for COVID-19.

“Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, we understand that people are trying to find new ways to prevent or treat this virus, but self-medicating is not the way to do so,” said Dr. Daniel Brooks, Banner Poison and Drug Information Center medical director, in a prepared statement. “The last thing that we want right now is to inundate our emergency departments with patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could potentially jeopardize their health.”

As COVID-19 has spread, local and state officials limited restaurants to take-out and delivery services in counties where cases of the virus have been confirmed. Here’s a parital list of restaurants that are offering take-out and delivery services.

In the face of the spreading virus, Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered schools closed through April 10. He has also ordered bars, gyms and theaters to be closed in any county with confirmed COVID-19 cases, halted all elective surgery to keep hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients and activated the National Guard to assist in grocery stores as Arizonans clear the shelves.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 symptoms typically occur two to 14 days after exposure, and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. However, some cases of the virus are entirely asymptomatic. Practices to avoid infection include social distancing (of at least six feet), washing your hands, avoiding unnecessary trips and not touching your face. COVID-19 can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on stainless steel and plastic surfaces up to three days.

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, speak with a healthcare provider for medical advice. According to the CDC, people who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Stay at home and avoid public transportation, but stay in touch with your doctor. If you do leave your home, wear a facemask and clean your hands often. If you develop more severe symptoms (persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, bluish lips) get medical attention immediately. Your local health authorities will give instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.

Have you caught COVID-19? Are you feeling ill? Is your small business struggling to make it Have you lost your job as a result of the outbreak? Are you struggling to manage your kids while schools are closed? Tell us your COVID-19 stories. Send an email to tucsoneditor@tucsonlocalmedia.com.

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