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Pima County supervisors increase penalties for violating COVID rules; keep voluntary curfew
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Pima County supervisors increase penalties for violating COVID rules; keep voluntary curfew

“We are in a crisis situation,” says county health director Dr. Theresa Cullen

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Supervisor Betty Villegas, left, chair Ramón Valadez and clerk Julie Castaneda listen as County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, foreground, talks about new measures being considered to address the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted Friday to strengthen penalties related to noncompliance with COVID-19 regulations, including the potential suspension of restaurant licenses and civil penalties for individuals not wearing a mask in public.

In addition to several new enforcement actions, the board also endorsed a strengthened public health advisory by the Pima County Health Department that now mandates businesses to report any known coronavirus cases.

The county’s voluntary curfew, which was established Nov. 24, will remain in place each night from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Dec. 31. Even as other areas of the county are asked to adhere to the voluntary curfew, the city of Tucson voted to implement a mandatory curfew earlier this week, which will be in place from Friday, Dec. 4 to Wednesday, Dec. 23.

“The point of an advisory is to really ensure that people understand the severity of what we are dealing with,” said Pima County’s Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen. “We are in a crisis situation.”

The increased enforcement measures come as new coronavirus cases reach unprecedented levels throughout the county and state. In the first four days of December, there have been close to 2,900 new infections in the county, exceeding the total number of cases in March, April and May combined.

Hospitals also continue to deal with a record number of COVID-19 patients, reporting only one available ICU bed in the county Dec. 3. Modeling teams throughout the state continue to see an accelerated growth curve with no signs of slowing down without serious statewide intervention.

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