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UPDATES: Tucson-area coronavirus developments, Oct. 20: What we know
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UPDATES: Tucson-area coronavirus developments, Oct. 20: What we know

Bookmark this daily roundup of coronavirus news from the Arizona Daily Star

  • Updated

A nurse holds swabs and test tube to test people for COVID-19 at a drive through station set up in the parking lot of the Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

Editor's note: With our coronavirus coverage, the Star is not trying to alarm the public but to provide up-to-date information so you can make educated decisions about your health. Because of this, we’ve made all coverage related to COVID-19 free. Help us continue this important work by subscribing to the Star.

As the spread of coronavirus continues, here are the latest updates from Southern Arizona.

Tuesday, Oct. 20

Coronavirus cases in Arizona, mapped by county

UA loosens virus restriction, allows classes of up to 50 students to meet on campus

Tucson airport is recognized for its COVID-19 sanitation efforts

Fundraising for cancer research 'is not on hold' during coronavirus pandemic

Tucsonan is picked for Arizona task force on reopening of elder-care facilities

CVS Health is looking to hire about 300 people throughout Arizona as it gears up for flu season and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Here's a map of coronavirus cases in Arizona by county for Aug. 13.

On Thursday, Arizona coronavirus cases top 190,700; 19,001 in Tucson area.

• University of Arizona President: Pac-12 made right call in putting sports on pause.

Horn honking replaces cheers as FC Tucson hits the big screen.

Join the Star Opinion team for weekly reader chat Thursday.

Tuesday, August 4

Tucson's Border Patrol agents are catching more backpackers hauling meth through the desert. The shift comes amid a years-long decline in marijuana smuggling along Arizona's border with Mexico, as well as recent travel restrictions related to the coronavirus that cut down on the legitimate traffic that allows smugglers to sneak contraband through ports of entry.

• AZ health director: Not all guidance on coronavirus from White House task force followed in state.

Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Jaden Mitchell announced on Twitter on Monday morning that he was one of three UA football players who tested positive for COVID-19.

Join the Star Opinion team for a reader chat with Tim Steller at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Tuesday, July 28

A free COVID-19 testing site is opening Wednesday in Tucson. The Pima County Health Department, in conjunction with Arizona State University and the Arizona Department of Health Services, will open the site in the Flowing Wells area. The county already operates a free site on the city's south side. To schedule a test at the Kino Event Center, 2805 E. Ajo Way, go to or call 800-369-3584.

A judge has agreed to hear arguments by Arizona gyms that Gov. Doug Ducey has essentially moved the goalposts in what they need to do to reopen.

Tucson events to give students free backpacks, school supplies.

Arizona Opera planning on concerts – outdoor and streamed – and a movie.

On Sunday, Arizona coronavirus cases toppped 162,000; 14,963 in Tucson area.

Sunday, July 26

At least 1,300 businesses and nonprofits in Pima County received upward of $450 million through the Paycheck Protection Program. Applicants told the feds the money would be used to help retain more than 76,000 jobs. Use the Star's database to search all PPP loans issued to Arizona businesses.

"We could quibble a little bit about how fast, but I think it's clear that things are getting better," Dr. Joe Gerald, an associate professor with the University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health, says about the state's latest COVID-19 data.

On Saturday, Arizona coronavirus cases topped 160,000; 14,800 in Tucson area.

Here's a map of Arizona cournavirus cases by county for July 25.

• On Monday, Don Guerra, of Barrio Bread, will co-host an online baking class with Elizabeth Sparks, 4-H Youth Development Assistant Agent at the Tucson Village Farm. The pair will teach a class on how to make the perfect Community Loaf, a whole wheat, grain encrusted bread anyone can make at home, Guerra says. Learn more about the class and sign up at: If you can’t make this class, Guerra offers classes periodically on his website,

Tucson conductors turn to technology to stay engaged with their audiences during the pandemic.

Teaching outdoors is a good way to reopen schools during the pandemic, writes Renée Schafer Horton.

"Many people, including top leaders, casually say those with compromised immune systems should just stay home in order to be protected. A seemingly easy solution we accept without question as we go about our daily lives ... but why do we?," writes Dr. Erica McFadden, executive director of the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

"Everybody is a little relieved," with the decision to move fall sports to spring, says the athletic director at Pima Community College.

Wildcats' return hinges on 'responsibility' of the student-athletes, Dave Heeke, University of Arizona athletic director, says in Greg Hansen's Sunday Notebook.

• Today's Keeping the Faith series features submissions by Rev. Michael Lonergan, pastor of Church of the Painted Hills, United Church of Christ; Jonathan Armstrong, the administrative pastor at Tucson Baptist Church; and Dr. Hugh Thompson, a member of the Eckankar clergy.

Friday, July 24

On Thursday, Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona schools chief Kathy Hoffman abandoned what had been an Aug. 17 'aspirational' date to begin offering in-classroom education. School leaders Thursday afternoon said they were trying to understand what Ducey's latest order means to their opening plans. There's no new date, but Arizona schools will be required to make on-site learning available for parents who want it. Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Health Services is supposed to come up with 'public health benchmarks' by Aug. 7 that schools will be need to consider when determining whether to open classrooms. Teachers across Tucson have said they don't want to return to classrooms while the coronavirus rages, looking into the possibility of resigning or retiring if they're forced into a classroom.

So few people exercising on Tumamoc Hill are wearing face masks that the University of Arizona has said it will shut it down again unless more of them follow the rules.

Thursday, July 23

Gov. Doug Ducey acted legally in blocking evictions in Arizona, judge rules.

A Tucson startup is working to create new vaccines for COVID-19, future viruses.

Gov. Doug Ducey is feeling the pressure to scrap the idea of setting a firm date for Arizona students to return to classrooms. More education and health officials are saying the state needs specific conditions under which in-school instruction could be considered safe. That means establishing science-based metrics to consider rates of coronavirus infection and spread and how fast schools can get test results.

Gee's Garden is closed after its landlord put a forcible detainer on the building for unpaid rent. The renter's financial woes were made worse by the pandemic, the building owner says.

If we all start wearing masks now, there's just enough time to make the start of the school year safer, writes Janet Funk, a physician and parent of high school seniors.

Sunday, July 19

Even before the coronavirus claimed its first known American victim, President Trump was already reaching to connect the disease to the U.S.-Mexico border. "We must understand that border security is also health security,"  Trump said during a Feb. 28 rally in South Carolina, contending that more border wall was needed to keep the virus out, though it was already in the US and spreading. "We will do everything in our power to keep the infection and those carrying the infection from entering our country."

The County Regional Flood Control District has mailed warning letters to more than 400 homeowners living along six washes in the Catalina Foothills and Pusch Ridge areas about the potential for flooding due to the Bighorn Fire, which has consumed more than 119,000 acres on the mountain since June 5. A recent video of a mess of black gunk, ash, tree limbs and brush flowing in the Cañada del Oro a few miles north of Oro Valley is a preview of what can happen, officials say.

3 positive COVID-19 tests reported among 83 Arizona Wildcats football players training on campus.

FC Tucson's 16-game slate opens next week in Florida.

Salpointe, Pusch Ridge say they're being cautious at voluntary workouts.

Friday, July 17

Arizona renters hurt financially by the coronavirus pandemic will get eviction protection through October. With a deadline just days away, Gov. Ducey in Thursday extended the effort to help keep renters in their homes, easing a huge worry for Tucson housing advocates. Ducey also said Thursday that he won't implement the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending that Arizona further reduce restaurant capacity nor will he issue a statewide mask-wearing order.

Thursday, July 16

The Tucson Unified School District says it expects to spend nearly $13 million in its effort to safely reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. The district's decision to go to online learning accounts for a lot of the extra spending. It also includes buying more laptops and tablets, maintaining those devices and hiring more monitors to supervise students in classrooms led by a teacher who is working remotely.

'I don't want to be on the news talking about somebody who dies because I allowed someone in the burn area,' Coronado National Forest Supervisor Kerwin Dewberry, says about a plan that will prohibit the public from visiting the Coronado National Forest on Mount Lemmon and in Sabino Canyon until Nov. 1. The big risk: flooding caused by runoff from burned areas.

Arizonans should expect they will need to wear face masks through at least the end of 2020, says an aide to Gov. Doug Ducey.

The US needs to provide funding to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in the developing world for their protection — and ours, writes John Waszczak, a Tucsonan who is a member of the  U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus will be today's guest in the Star's online reader chat.

Wednesday, July 15

An online, in-person learning combo will be implemented by the Tucson Unified School District. Among the changes: Monitors supervising classrooms while teachers work remotely; Students who go to school in person will be assigned a computer and a learning lab or work space with about 13 students to a room; and students with special needs will be prioritized for in-person learning while not having to follow the same mask-wearing and social-distancing requirements.

Arizona's 'skewed' virus numbers don't justify pandemic restrictions, Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, contends in a report.

Tuesday, July 14

Gov. Doug Ducey's approval rating among Arizonans for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic has fallen sharply as the number of cases in the state has skyrocketed. A new poll says of 37% of those questioned say they strongly disapprove of how Ducey is managing the virus crisis. Another 26% say they somewhat disapprove.

A company that franchises out fitness studios wants a federal judge in Arizona to rule that there are limits on the unilateral authority Gov. Doug Ducey has to close them down — even during an emergency like the coronavirus pandemic.

Here's a map of Arizona's coronavirus cases, by county, for July 13.

• In April, the Star's Henry Brean wrote about the impact the Spanish Flu pandemic had on the dusty town of Tucson a century ago. This is how the Star covered the "Spanish influenza" in 1918.

Join the Star's Opinion team Thursday at 2 p.m. for chat with readers. Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus is the guest.

Monday, July 13

Tucson-area private and charter schools have collected millions in federal coronavirus relief loans. While tradition public school districts a excluded from the Paycheck Protection Program, 29 private and charter schools or corporate headquarters in Tucson collectively received between $11 million and $27 million.

• On Sunday, Arizona's total coronavirus cases topped 122,000.

• The Arizona Interscholastic Association announced Friday that Arizona's high school football season will start the second week of September. Athletic directors at high schools across metro Tucson are focused on how to safely return to fall sports. "We are having talks of when we will return, but the conversation is mainly focusing on what that return will look like," Tucson Unified School District athletic director Dee-Dee Wheeler said. "We haven't had any conversations regarding canceling."

• Here are some local coronavirus stories from this weekend you might have missed: A Tucson nursing home has the worst COVID-19 death toll in the state; Tracking coronavirus trends in Arizona can be harder because of data-reporting lags; The coronavirus pandemic has plunged non profits here into a financial quagmire; The end of eviction protection is coming to an end in Arizona, and the housing industry is bracing for a  "pending tsunami."

Join the Star's Opinion team Thursday at 2 p.m. for chat with readers.

Sunday, July 12

• A Tucson nursing home has the worst COVID-19 death toll in the state, new federal numbers show. The nursing home with the third-highest number of deaths is also in Pima County.

Here's a map of coronavirus cases in Arizona by county for July 11.

• More than 74,000 Pima County residents could be at risk of losing their homes as Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey‘s moratorium on evictions approaches its end. Across Arizona, 365,000 renters could face eviction over the next four months, according to a recently published analysis by the international consulting firm Stout Risius Ross.

• State data shows a week-to-week decrease in the numbers of coronavirus cases, tests and hospitalizations, but “Don’t believe it,” said Dr. Joe Gerald, an associate professor with the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health. Data-reporting lags make it difficult to interpret coronavirus trends. They occur across all entities, like hospitals and laboratories, that report data to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

• A Southern Arizona high school athletic trainer beat leukemia. Now she's battling coronavirus.

• Tucson-area gyms struggle to cope with what they see as vague guidance in Gov. Doug Ducey's order shutting them down to slow the spread of coronavirus.

• University of Arizona athletic director praises plan to keep Pac-12 games playing, thanks Wildcats for their support.

Coronavirus plunges local nonprofits in financial quagmire.

Here's what it's like to fly in and out of Tucson International Airport during the pandemic.

Saturday, July 11

Pima County moves in to provide Tucson's funeral homes extra space for the dead. The county is making available up to 150 spaces in the Office of the Medical Examiner's morgue to help hospitals, funeral homes and mortuaries that have reached or neared capacity. It insists, however, that the move is not "directly" related to COVID-19. The county's announcement comes a day after it said it will open a free COVID-19 testing site on Monday.

• Even after saying his stay-home order helped slow the spread of the coronavirus in the state, Gov. Ducey on Thursday said it's not necessary to reimpose such an order during the current surge. Instead — as coronavirus cases have been spiking in Arizona at a rate that's one of the highest in the country — Ducey is putting new occupancy rules on restaurants and promising the state will 'dramatically' increase testing.

• Arizona bars: Power Ducey given to force them to close is unconstitutional.

Here's a map of coronavirus cases in Arizona by county for July 9.

• To save its season during the virus pandemic, the Pac-12 should follow Big Ten's lead and play a conference-only schedule.

• Weekend reads: Employers in Arizona get to decide if coworkers — or the public — know about coronavirus cases among workers at places you eat and shop; Families that include individuals with disabilities are especially alarmed by the prospect of Arizona's "triaged care." Why? Because if the virus crisis gets bad enough and resources get scarce enough, it provides guidelines that include critical care treatment based on likelihood of survival. And that could mean people with certain disabilities might not get the same level of care; Tucson school districts set start dates, but most kids will begin the school year learning at home.

Thursday, July 9

Arizona is getting a lot of national attention over its skyrocketing of new coronavirus cases. There were nearly 27,000 new confirmed cases in the most recent seven-day period available, a data analysis by Capitol Media Services found. That's nearly 3,700 new infections this past week for every million Arizona residents. That's higher not just than any state in the country but any other country in the world, according to a separate analysis by the New York Times.

ASU researchers develop cheaper, faster test for COVID-19.

• "Our colleges and universities are now threatened by a foolish ICE policy . . . that could effectively ban international students," writes Jeremy Fiel, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Arizona.

The coronavirus pandemic could keep the Schooler brothers from teaming up for the Arizona Wildcats.

Wednesday, July 8

• Arizona recently saw its slowest week-to-week increase in coronavirus cases in about a month. The state's slower rate of increase in cases of the coronavirus indicates mask-wearing mandates are helping, says a University of Arizona public health professor.

"It is essential that Arizona waive the requirement for students to be physically present in order to broaden options that ensure the safety of our community," write Erik M. Francis and Adelle McNiece, authors and educators.

An Arizona Daily Star storytelling event today will feature artists with disabilities.

Tuesday, July 7

Some Tucsonans with COVID-19 are being sent to hospitals in San Diego, Albuquerque, Las Vegas or hospitals in other parts of Arizona for treatment when shortages in staffing, equipment or bed space make it impossible for care here.

• Once the coronavirus crisis is over, legislators need to consider exactly how much unilateral power they have given Arizona governor, says Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott. She's joined by other Arizona lawmakers pushing for a review that could alter how governors handle statewide emergencies.

Needs only grow for Tucson foster children and families during the pandemic.

All Souls cancels its procession in Tucson, takes most events online.

Coronavirus keeps Tucson's Fox Tucson Theatre closed through 2020.

"President Robbins has taken a holistic, shared-sacrifice approach to try to keep the university community whole," writes Regent Fred DuVal, about COVID-19 plans being implemented at the University of Arizona.

Local action is needed to mitigate economic fallout from pandemic, writes Lynn Nadel, a professor emeritus of cognitive science and psychology at the University of Arizona.

Many international athletes may be left out of NCAA sports this year 

Monday, July 6

Having so many patients here facing a long recovery from an assortment of health effects from severe case of COVID-19 could overwhelm Tucson's health-care system, some medical professionals say.

• Local organizers, the city and Pima County are stepping up to support Tucson businesses trying to adjust to a COVID-19 world.

Here's a map of Arizona cases by county for July 5.

• Weekend reads: Employers in Arizona get to decide if coworkers — or the public — know about coronavirus cases among workers at places you eat and shop; Families that include individuals with disabilities are especially alarmed by the prospect of Arizona's "triaged care." Why? Because if the virus crisis gets bad enough and resources get scarce enough, it provides guidelines that include critical care treatment based on likelihood of survival. And that could mean people with certain disabilities might not get the same level of care; Tucson school districts set start dates, but most kids will begin the school year learning at home.

Sunday, July 5

Arizona families that include individuals with disabilities are especially alarmed by prospect of "triaged care" being implemented here. Why? Because in Arizona, if the coronavirus crisis gets bad enough and resources get scarce enough, the state's plan provides guidelines under triaging care that include determining which patients get critical care based on likelihood of survival. And that could mean people with certain disabilities might not get the same level of care.

Employees and the public are often left in dark when Tucson businesses opt not to disclose coronavirus cases.

A Tucson mom and daughter shared their lives, then COVID-19 struck.

This map shows cases of the coronavirus in Arizona, mapped by county for July 3.

University of Arizona volleyball player Kamaile Hiapo has an improvised at-home training routine during the pandemic that includes an oversized slanted board built be her dad, playing games, doing drills and talking volleyball nearly 24/7.

•  It's getting harder and harder to imagine Tucson having a prep football season in 2020, writes Star sports columnist Greg Hansen.

• In Tucson you can send love to isolated seniors through a nice note.

• "The 126,000-plus U.S. citizens who've died of COVID-19 were more than just numbers," says Renée Schafer Horton, a Tucson writer.

• The faith leaders across metro Tucson sharing inspirational stories today in the Star's "Keeping the Faith" feature include: Carolyn Ancell, an ordained interfaith minister from Oro Valley; Rev. Janis Farmer, an ordained minister of religious science who ministers at The Center for Spiritual Living Tucson; and Jim Howard, the assistant pastor at Tucson Baptist Church.

Sahuarita is the only municipality in the Tucson area still planning a large Fourth of July fireworks show tonight.

Topgolf in Marana set to reopen after 110-day closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday July, 3

• With 4,433 new coronavirus cases, the statewide total is 91,858, the state department said Friday in its daily tally. Here's a look at today's map of COVID-19 cases in Pima County and the rest of Arizona.

• Worried about Arizona's surge in coronavirus cases, Sonora is set to turn away US tourists at the border starting this weekend.

TUSD is starting school Aug. 10, but only online. Traditional classes will start when it's safe to do, says Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo.

Health initiative backers submit signature petitions to get on Arizona's ballot. The initiative would raise pay for hospital workers; protect patients against 'surprise' medical bills; and guarantee that individuals with preexisting conditions will be able to obtain insurance if the federal Affordable Care Act is repealed. "What COVID has done is reveal some of the cracks in our public-health system," said Rodd McLeod, a spokesman for the campaign financed by a California-based union.

More than two dozen health clubs disobey Arizona's gym closure order.

Here's a map of COVID-19 in Arizona by county for July 2.

"Three months after becoming ill, I am still recovering," Evangeline Marie Ortiz-Dowling, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona, College of Nursing, writes about her fight against COVID-19.

Here's a map showing coronavirus cases in Arizona by county for July 1.

Tucson Youth Football and Spirit Federation cancels its 2020 season.

• "COVID-19 has been a brutal, sudden and time-compressed reminder of our shared human mortality," writes Sarah S. Ascher, the senior director of Arizona End of Life Care Partnership.

Wednesday, July 1

• A worry for Arizona education officials: What if schools reopen, and no one comes?

• About a month after it reopened, downtown's Hotel Congress closes again amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

Marana's Growlers TapHouse, licensed as a bar, is appealing to the state to let it stay open as a restaurant.

Pima County Superior Court is offering remote access to hearings.

• The University of Arizona paused bringing more student-athletes back to campus, but workouts will continue for football players already here.

Here's a map of coronavirus cases in Arizona by county for June 30.

• From Sunday's edition: Pima County leaders could again be asked to provide health officials legal avenues to enforce the mask-wearing ordinance the Board of Supervisors approved. Currently the ordinance prevents the county from pursuing violations as a misdemeanor without permission from Supervisors. And as cases of the coronavirus in Arizona continue to rise, the Sonora beach town of Rocky Point is welcomed tourists back, while still trying to keep the spread of the coronavirus away.

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