The Children’s Museum Tucson is sending out an SOS and offering a lifeline to parents and children during the summer of COVID-19.
“The ‘Save Our Summer FUNdraiser’— with an emphasis on fun — has a double meaning. It benefits both the museum and the families looking for a place to get out of the house with their kids,” said Teresa Truelsen, director of marketing for the museum.
The unique SOS Play Day events offer three-hour time slots during which a family or small social group can receive private access to the entire museum, located downtown at 206 S. Sixth Ave., for a $300 donation.
Two Play Day spots are available each day on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and three spots are available daily on Fridays and Saturdays.
Additionally, two Play Day spots will be randomly gifted each Tuesday during Give Back Tuesday, offering free access to the program for families unable to donate $300.
The program began last week and will continue through Aug. 16; registration is available online at ChildrensMuseumTucson.org/SOS.
Each Play Day spot is limited to a group of 10 or less and all guests over the age of 5 are required to wear face masks so the events adhere to guidelines set by local health experts to minimize spread of the coronavirus, according to Truelsen. The museum is also sanitized between each play session.
“We have missed having children in the museum, and while we have put the time to good use by making updates throughout the museum, it has been way too quiet. Our reopening plans keep being put on hold due to the pandemic, so we thought this was a great way to get kids back in the museum,” said Truelsen.
The event was a hit with museum members Annie and John Symms and their five children: Lavender, Shane, Roland, Tyson and Magnus.
Annie said they rented a spot last week to celebrate Roland’s third birthday and the staff made the celebration extra special with an age-appropriate science experiment (available to members) in addition to the many regular exhibits.
“It is just fantastic. You get to rent the entire museum for three hours for $300 — how awesome is that? It feels like that movie, ‘Night at the Museum.’ It is just a fantasy experience to have the whole museum to yourselves,” said Symms.
She said her family also appreciated both the change of scenery and the unique opportunity to support the nonprofit museum during this difficult time.
Tucson sees surge in vehicle, motorcycle fatalities despite virus-related decrease in traffic
Tucson’s streets have been less busy but more deadly during the coronavirus pandemic, police data shows.
Fatal car and motorcycle crashes have more than tripled so far this year compared to last year despite less traffic on the roads, Tucson Police Department statistics show.
Eighteen drivers and passengers have died so far this year in vehicle crashes other than motorcycles, compared to five such deaths in the same period last year, the data show.
Motorcycle fatalities, which are recorded separately, also have spiked within city limits to 17 deaths this year compared to five this time last year.
Traffic deaths were down slightly last year in Tucson from the previous year.
Meanwhile, pedestrian deaths have declined to 13 so far this year compared to 17 last year. And one bicyclist has died, compared to zero at this point in 2019.
Wildfires such as the Bighorn Fire north of Tucson leave the ground charred and unable to absorb water, which can increase flood risks. “Even …
Nearly a dozen U.S.states have seen death rates rise in lighter traffic, according to the nonprofit National Safety Council, though the increase has not been statewide in Arizona.
The Tucson trend came as a surprise to police Capt. Diana Duffy, the department’s traffic safety coordinator.
“I think we all expected accidents to decrease and deaths to decrease,” Duffy said in an interview. “Instead collisions are down and fatalities are up.”
It turns out that when streets are empty, some drivers tend to get lead feet.
“Excessive speed” was the top factor in most of the recent road deaths, Duffy said.
Impairment also was a factor in some cases, she said, and noted a national survey that found a 200% surge in alcohol sales this past spring.
TPD is aiming to curb the death toll by assigning motorcycle officers to patrol near crash-prone intersections, Duffy said.
It’s hard to say how much lighter Tucson traffic has become, though it “absolutely” is occurring, said Blake Olofson, a traffic engineer at City Hall.
A precise count would be expensive and impractical because a full-scale count typically is done once a year, he said.
But some trends emerged in the limited research that exists, a joint study between the city and the University of Arizona that used location data from smart phones to assess Tucson’s traffic capacity.
The research showed a noticeable decrease in traffic on Tucson streets when various stay-at-home orders were in place from around mid-March through mid-May.
The trend to higher traffic fatality rates does not extend to roads policed by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department or by Arizona state troopers, those agencies said.
Fatal crashes on county roads stand at 18 so far this year, about the same as last year, officials said.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which polices state highways, has seen a steep decline in fatalities. The death toll so far this year is 160 compared to 200 in 2019, officials said.
At least 11 states from coast to coast have seen spikes in traffic deaths, the National Safety Council said.
The council released a preliminary estimate last month based on April data from all 50 states showing a 36% spike in fatality rate per miles, as the number of miles driven dropped 40%.
In a statement on the safety council’s website, the group’s president and CEO urged drivers to be civic-minded in the era of COVID19.
“Right now, in the midst of a global pandemic, we should take it as our civic duty to drive safely,” Lorraine M. Martin said.
“If we won’t do it for ourselves we should do it for our first responders, our law enforcement and our health-care workers who are rightly focused on coronavirus patients and should not be overwhelmed by preventable car crashes.”
Six sites throughout Tucson handed out masks to residents as a part of the citywide #MaskUpTucson campaign. Each site, located in a respective…
Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at firstname.lastname@example.org