While trying to pass the time due to COVID-19, Ryan Iker, right, unemployed bartender, and Matt Oliver, unemployed chef, play basketball at the University of Arizona on March 17, 2020. We knew the basketball court would be empty said Iker as he shot the ball.

Hi, friends. We know that things seem to be changing faster than we can all keep up. And even though we can't tell you about fun events happening right now, we still want to help you engage with and love our community. That just looks different now than it did one week ago (which, can we just say, is totally crazy).  

For local, breaking news, check out the Arizona Daily Star's coronavirus updates. The coverage is succinct, helpful and free — there's no cost to read  stories related to the coronavirus. We'll include some of those updates here, but for even more information, please go to tucson.com

On this page, we plan to share news updates, how local businesses and organizations are responding and what we can do to support each other through this. ❤️

Wednesday, March 18

Today we were tracking the impact on Tucson restaurant workers after restaurant dining rooms were forced to close; more closures at places like the zoo and Casino del Sol; and some brighter stories like Eegee's donating all their baked bread and local businesses moving education, craft, baking and fitness classes online.

*rain, rain stick around, i could care less because i'm stuck inside for the foreseeable future*

• The Arizona Stage Legislature is rushing to pass a state budget and emergency relief bills before they adjourn. The proposed bills would give schools flexibility and financial help for workers in different industries who lose their jobs due to the impacts from the coronavirus. Read the full story here. 

• Reid Park Zoo is temporarily closing to the public through at least March 31. The zoo will also be closing its Asian Lantern Festival and postponing scheduled events through April. The zoo's staff will continue working to care for the animals and continue cleaning and sanitation efforts. "At this time, the zoo is well-stocked on supplies of essential food and medical supplies for the animals, a move it made several weeks ago in preparation for potential closure," the zoo shared in its newsletter. The zoo will continue to share fun stories and facts about its animals on its blog, this is how we learned that the zoo named its newest trumpter hornbill Veronica (Ronnie for short) and that she is "smart, curious, and playful."

• Tucson staple Eegee's is donating any baked bread left over from the day to Gospel Rescue Mission and Casa Maria to assist the organizations' in serving elderly community members and others in need. 

• As restaurants closed their dining rooms the evening of Tuesday, March 17 following a mandate from Tucson mayor Regina Romero, the Tucson City of Gastronomy released a list of phone numbers to help restaurant workers or anyone who's been laid off or is hurting right now. Go here for more information. 

•  Grocery giants Safeway and Albertsons are looking to hire 1,000 in-store employees and delivery drivers across Arizona, per Star reporter Patty Machelor. Apply online at careersatsafeway.com or albertsonscompanies.com. Or call your local store for more info. 

• Casino del Sol has temporarily closed down its properties, which include both its resorts, Casino of the Sun, AVA Amphitheater and Sewailo Golf Club. They will reopen Monday, April 13 at 8 a.m., according to an article in the Star. Employees will be compensated during that time, says CEO Kimberly Van Amburg. 

• Lots of Tucson businesses are coming up with creative ways to connect with you online. Here's our guide to social distancing in Tucson while supporting local businesses. 

• Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona is moving its scouting adventures online. Starting today, March 18, our local council has launched a Virtual Girl Scouts resource page where girls at every level can continue earning badges and fun patches from home by completing different outdoor, STEM and art activities. New activities will be added every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Go here to see all the options. 

Become a member of #ThisIsTucson. None of our stories are behind a paywall because we believe this work should be free. We just launched membership last week because we believe in the power of journalism to help people find answers, connect with their community and change things for the better — and that work is costly. If you believe in what we do, your contribution directly helps our team of five local amazing women keep doing this work for you.

YMCA of Southern Arizona facilities are closed as of 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17 through the end of the month. But the YMCA will continue to offer its spring break camps, prioritizing families providing essential services, such as health care workers and first responders. Staff will keep groups smaller than 10. Go here for more information.

• Local fitness studios are offering workouts and classes online. We made a list  to make your out-home workout easier. 

• Tumamoc Hill, a treasured Tucson landmark, closed to the public starting at noon on Wednesday, March 18, according to a news release. 

#ThisIsTucson is made possible by people who ❤️ our community just as much as our five-woman team. If you believe in what we do, support our work by becoming a member today