Bighorn Fire

• The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Arizona continued to skyrocket, topping 54,000 as of Monday, June 22, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Pima County had seen 5,587 of the state’s 54,586 confirmed cases. With nearly 18,000 new cases in just one week, Arizona is now considered a national hotspot. A total of 1,342 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 242 in Pima County, according to the June 22 report. Arizona hospitals continued to see a rise in the number of people hospitalized with COVID symptoms, as well as more people visiting emergency rooms. The Arizona Department of Health Services reports that as of June 21, a record number of 1,992 Arizonans were hospitalized and a record 583 people were in ICU units. The report shows a record 1,228 people arrived at emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms on June 21. 

Nationwide, more than 2.2 million people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which had killed nearly 120,000 people in the United States as of Monday, June 22, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University.

• The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 along party lines Friday, June 19 to mandate the wearing of masks countywide. The order will be enforced by the county’s health agency and not by law enforcement and carries no penalty. One day before the supervisors voted to require the masks citywide, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero issued a proclamation requiring masks in the city limits, with a possible $50 fine for repeat offenders. The actions by the city and county came after Gov. Doug Ducey agreed to allow local governments to mandate the wearing of masks; previously, Ducey’s emergency declaration prevented local governments from imposing regulations that went beyond what the state was mandating in the battle against COVID-19.

• The Bighorn Fire in the Santa Catalina Mountains grew to more than 58,000 acres as hotshot crews and aircraft continued to battle the blaze as of Monday, June 22. The fire was only 16 percent contained. While the fire had blazed through peaks and canyons, firefighters had managed to protect the Mount Lemmon community of Summerhaven and the surrounding cabins, as well as homes in Oracle, Catalina, Oro Valley and the Catalina Foothills. Mount Lemmon residents have been warned to evacuate, as have some residents of Oracle. Other Oracle residents as well as those in the foothills were warned to be “set” to evacuate under the state’s Ready, Set, Go evacuation system.

• Tucson Mayor Regina Romero celebrated Juneteenth on Friday, June 19, by hanging a massive Black Lives Matter banner from the top of City Hall that could be seen from Interstate 10. “Tucson stands in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters across the country in fighting the systemic racism that pervades our society at all levels,” Romero said in a prepared statement. “We are here to support, listen, and learn from the Black Lives Matter movement and our community so that we can better effect change and work for meaningful reform that closes racial, economic and social inequities.”

• Three months ago, Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order  intended to halt residential evictions due to hardships related to COVID-19. But the rules are not being uniformly enforced across Pima County, according to a memo from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, who recommended that the Pima County Attorney's Office and the Arizona Office of the Courts investigate some questionable actions in recent evictions. He suggested the Constables Ethics and Training Board become involved as well. Some Pima County constables (the elected officials who enforce eviction orders) are taking a “proactive approach” to COVID-19 evictions while others are not, Huckelberry said. Some constables won't enforce eviction orders if a tenant can provide proof of COVID-19-related hardships, while others will evict no matter what. This leaves tenants susceptible to unequal treatment, determined solely by which constable is assigned to their case.

• The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum began a phased reopening June 16 with new safety precautions based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The natural history museum, located at 2021 N. Kinney Road, is also a zoo, botanical garden and aquarium. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, they frequently hosted art gallery events and educational programs for children and adults of all ages. Guests who plan a visit to the museum will still have access to most exhibits. Some indoor amenities will be closed, such as the Packrat Playhouse, while others will be modified to ensure health safety. Food and beverages will still be available onsite.


Additional reporting from Kathleen B. Kunz, Austin Counts, Jeff Gardner, Tara Foulkrod and Jim Nintzel.

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