Arizona's Response to COVID-19

County and State Response to COVID-19

BREAKING NEWS - Arizona

  • On March 30,  Governor Ducey announced and issued an Executive Order is titled "Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected," and unique to Arizona, includes a strong focus on mental health. The order encourages Arizonans to participate in outdoor activities, as long as they are accompanied by social distancing measures. Additionally, it stresses the need for "social connectedness" -- a concern of public safety and public health officials, especially among our senior population and those struggling with depression and suicide.
  • On March 30, Governor Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman issued a joint statement, that all Arizona Schools are closed for the remainder of the school year. 
  • On March 30, Governor Ducey announced a cooperative agreement with the state’s banks to protect small businesses and families from eviction and foreclosure. Banks also committed to expediting the application and approval of small business loans as part of the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program passed by Congress and signed into law last week. View more details.
  • On March 30, Governor Ducey today announced $5 million in new funding to help Arizonans struggling to make rent due to COVID-19. The new dollars will be included as part of a Rental Eviction Prevention Assistance Program being launched by the Arizona Department of Housing and will help families and individuals who are facing a loss of income due to COVID-19 with monthly rent assistance.
  • On March 28, Governor Ducey signed an $11.8 billion budget that includes economic aid for those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state legislature passed the "skinny" budget last week and sits adjured until April 13th. 
  • Governor Ducey exempted the State of Arizona from a federal regulation requiring Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA’s) to be supervised by a physician. This will expand access to care, especially in rural areas, and free-up physicians for other needed medical services.
  • Governor Ducey announced that Arizona has received more than $5.3 million in grant funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help Arizona communities provide meals for older adults. The dollars will support both meal delivery programs and programs serving senior centers and are part of a relief package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020.
  • New Executive Orders: 
    • An Executive Order delaying evictions for renters impacted by COVID 19.
    • An Executive Order that will help accelerate the tracking of COVID 19 cases. This E.O. can be found under the "enhanced surveillance advisory.
    • An Executive Order ensuring Arizona hospitals increase the capacity to prepare for a potential influx of patients due to COVID-19. The order requires hospitals to increase the amount of hospital bed capacity in the state, take steps to optimize staffing levels and maximize critical resources.
    • An Executive Order that requires health care insurance companies to expand telemedicine coverage for all services that would normally be covered for an in-person visit. 
    • An Executive Order helping licensed professionals in the state stay licensed and deferring certain requirements for six months. Under the Executive Order, state agencies and boards will defer requirements to renew licenses that have an expiration date between March 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020 by six months from the expiration date, unless those requirements can be completed online.
  • Governor Ducey announced Arizona Enrichment Centers which will offer childcare for children of first-responders, critical healthcare workers and essential public sector workers. This is a voluntary program. All school sites will follow the CDC guidance for schools.
  • Governor Ducey and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) will waive emissions testing for vehicle owners 65 and older for up to one year to allow them to renew their vehicle registrations.

Arizona Together

On March 23, Governor Ducey launched the Arizona Together initiative to support Arizonans during the COVID-19 outbreak, connecting individuals and businesses to resources, raising money for community organizations and providing information on volunteer opportunities. A website, ArizonaTogether.org, serves as the centralized location for Arizonans to find help or provide support.

The AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund, established by Governor Ducey as part of the initiative, will provide financial support to organizations working to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in Arizona. Initially, the fund will focus on the following immediate needs:

  • Funding of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline medical personnel.
  • Supporting non-profit organizations that help vulnerable Arizonans through food banks, homeless shelters, domestic violence facilities and other services.
  • Expanding technology access for low-income students to help them transition to online learning.
  •  Michael J. Bidwill, Chairman and President of the Arizona Cardinals, has stepped forward to provide a generous founding contribution to the fund of $1 million.

The Arizona Together initiative brings together the growing list of resources and information being offered by state agencies and community partners. Individuals who register to volunteer through the ArizonaTogether.org website will be connected with organizations across the state seeking community assistance.

Updated State Recommendations - March 20, 2020 (Current)

  • Effective close of business Friday, March 20, all restaurants in Arizona counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases are required to provide dine-out options only.
  • Effective close of business Friday, March 20, all bars, movie theaters, and gyms in counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases are required to close.
  • Halt all elective surgeries in the state of Arizona.
  • If someone in your family has tested positive for COVID-19, keep the entire household at home and contact your medical provider.
  • Expiration dates on Arizona driver licenses are delayed.
  • State-wide closures of Arizona schools through Friday, April 10, 2020.
    • When school resumes, school administrators should develop and implement precautions to ensure schools are a safe learning environment, including social distancing measures, regular intervals for administrators to wash and sanitize their hands, and guidance on how to properly and frequently sanitize equipment and common surfaces.
  • Recommendations to cancel or postpone mass gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • Recommend telework and other alternatives when available.

County Response

The county governments of Arizona are taking the necessary steps to help inform, contain, and resolve the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the response from the counties has been varied, they are largely similar and many, if not most, include the following steps county-wide:

  • Construction of Informational webpages and newsletters regarding State responses, County responses, and COVID-19 information put forward by medical authorities such as the CDC.
  • Webpages and Newsletters include in-depth information on how citizens should respond, what various county departments are doing, and regularly updated information to keep the public up to date.
  • Most webpages and newsletters also contain references to further information such as CDC announcements, State announcements, etc.
  • Observation of state-wide safety measures such as:
  • Limit gatherings of people 10 or more.
  • Suspension or moderation of some public services (i.e. community centers, library programs, school closures, etc.).
  • Temporary Closure of some businesses (i.e. Dine-in restaurants, pubs, etc.).

The response of Arizona Counties to the state of emergency instituted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is focused on the safety and well-being of its denizens. As Arizona faces an unprecedented situation in the shape of this pandemic, county officials and departments work to take the proper measures.

State and county-wide measures continue to be the standard in Arizona and are helping to bring structure to a situation that has left many Arizonans disoriented. While many challenges remain, Arizona counties continue to move in unison to inform, contain, and resolve the crisis. In an age where information is everywhere, we encourage you to visit your county’s website for information on how they are confronting COVID-19 and the state of emergency, individual links can be found below. 

Helpful Resources:

Apache

Link to azdhs.gov page
Link: https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/index.php#novel-corona

Cochise

Reference to state instituted automated information hotline for Coronavirus. It states as of when the information is current and provides information such as the current number of cases and procedures.

Construction of an informational webpage discussing COVID-19 information in Arizona, in the county, and in general.  This includes details about the virus, and how the county is responding to the crisis. Additionally, many links to official news about the situation are available on the webpage.

Use of a podcast entitled ‘Cochise Conversation’ to publicly discuss the response to COVID-19 in Cochise County and related information. Link: https://covid-cochisehealth.hub.arcgis.com/
Hotline: 1-844-542-8201 (AZ Poison and Drug Information Center)

Coconino

Informational webpage covering basics of preventing diseases, basic knowledge of the coronavirus, and links to response measures and recommendations. Link: https://www.coconino.az.gov/covid19

Gila

Webpage with overview of coronavirus information and links to more in-depth information. The webpage also includes a link to the Arizona Department of Health Services collection of links generic response plans.
Link: https://www.gilacountyaz.gov/news_detail_T5_R469.php

Graham

Webpage referencing news and releases and public health service announcements regarding COVID-19.
Link: https://www.graham.az.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=175

Greenlee

Online health announcements and newsletters Link: https://greenlee.az.gov/departments/health-county-services/

La Paz

Basic informational website. Link: https://www.lpchd.com/

Maricopa

In-depth website providing extensive information regarding coronavirus, state-wide response, county-wide response, and reference to other medical institutions (i.e. CDC). Link: https://www.maricopa.gov/5460/Coronavirus-Disease-2019

Mohave

Online health announcements and newsletters Link: https://www.mohavecounty.us/#

Navajo

Online health announcements and newsletters Link: https://www.navajocountyaz.gov/

Pima

Online health announcements and newsletters Link: https://webcms.pima.gov/

Pinal

Reference to state instituted automated information hotline for Coronavirus. It states as of when the information is current and provides information such as the current number of cases and procedures.

A dedicated webpage to press releases about COVID-19, how to prepare and act throughout the emergency, various FAQs, when to get tested, and an extensive overview of COVID-19 for the public to review.

The webpage also includes information stating that written response plans exist, and an operations center is being made active.
Link: https://www.pinalcountyaz.gov/publichealth/Pages/NovelCoronavirus.aspx
Hotline: 1-844-542-8201 (AZ Poison and Drug Information Center)

Santa Cruz

Informational Webpage regarding county and state response, coronavirus news, and information on the coronavirus. Shelter in Place instituted.
Link: https://www.santacruzhealth.org/HSAHome/HSADivisions/PublicHealth/CommunicableDiseaseControl/Coronavirus.aspx

Yavapai

Online health announcements and newsletters. Link: http://www.yavapai.us/chs

Yuma

Informational Webpage regarding county and state response, coronavirus news, and information on the coronavirus.
Link: https://www.yumacountyaz.gov/government/health-district/divisions/emergency-preparedness-program/coronavirus-2019-covid-19-yuma-county-updates-3651

Federal Response

BREAKING NEWS 

Congress and President Trump take action - The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748) (link)

On March 27th, President Trumped signed into law the 3rd coronavirus relief bill, a historic and record-breaking $2 trillion stimulus package. The massive rescue package — the biggest in U.S. history — would provide hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and grants to major industries and small businesses, direct cash payments to taxpayers and significantly expand unemployment benefits. Most importantly, it provides additional resources that counties can use toward response efforts. View NACo’s full analysis here.

Social Distancing Timeline Extended

On March 29th, President Trump announced that the White House would be extending its social distancing guidelines through April 30th, from an initial 15-day timeline when they were implemented on March 16th. 

Congress has cleared an $8.3 billion emergency supplemental appropriations package (link)

Congress and the Administration are in the process of responding to the coronavirus outbreak with economic stimulus measures, public health investments and aid to state and local governments. On March 6,  President Trump signed an  $8.3 billion emergency supplemental appropriations package(P.L. 116-123) that includes comprehensive resources to enhance the national response to coronavirus, as well as key provisions to support state and local efforts to address cases of the illness. 

As passed, the legislation specifically includes: 

  • $2.2 billion in public health funding to support prevention, preparedness and response efforts, including a $1 billion set-aside for State and Local Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) grants to support states, counties, cities, and tribes, half of which will be distributed within 30 days. 
  • Under this provision, each state will receive at least $4 million in PHEP grants. For county-administered public health authorities, we strongly encourage county officials to work closely with state public health offices on the timing and requirements for sub-allocation and use of these funds.
  • $3 billion in funding for research and development of coronavirus vaccines and diagnostic tools, and $100 million in supplemental appropriations for Community Health Centers (CHC).
  • $3.1 billion in funding will support the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund under theU.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) (link)

  • Requires all COVID-19 diagnostic testing to be covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and provide states the option to expand Medicaid eligibility to uninsured populations for purposes of COVID-19 testing
  • Provides temporary increase to states’ federal Medicaid assistance for the public health emergency for COVID-19
  • $500 million to supplement the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Child (WIC), which would provide access to nutritious foods to low-income pregnant women or mothers with young children who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 emergency
  • $400 million to supplement the Emergency Food Assistance Program to assist local food banks to meet the increased demand for low-income Americans during the outbreak
  • $250 million to supplement the Senior Nutrition Program to provide 25 million additional home-delivered and pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors who depend on the program
  • Allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to approve state plans to provide emergency SNAP assistance to households with children who receive free school meals, but whose schools closed due to COVID-19 outbreak
  • $5 million to supplement paid sick leave to individuals affected by COVID-19. Specifically, the bill would allocate additional funding to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and instruct the agency to administer the emergency paid sick days program
  • $1 billion in funding for emergency grants to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance benefits to individuals affected by COVID-19

President declares national state of emergency to speed COVID-19 response

On  March 13, President Trump declared a National Emergency by invoking the Stafford Act, which allows for more federal aid for local governments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist with the response. In total, the declaration would free up $50 billion to address COVID-19 as well as: 

  • Unlock resources from FEMA’s disaster relief fund.
  • Allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to waive certain regulations to more quickly deliver testing and care for coronavirus patients.
  • Waive interest that accrues on all federal student loans “until further notice”.

President Trump’s 15 Days to Slow the Spread

On March 16, President Trump issued new guidelines to the U.S. public to help slow the spread of COVID-19 over the course of 15 days. The guidelines include the following:

  • Listen to and follow the directions of your STATE AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES.
  • IF YOUR FEEL SICK, stay home. Do not go to work. Contact your medical provider.
  • IF YOUR CHILDREN ARE SICK, keep them at home. Do not send them to school. Contact your medical provider.
  • IF SOMEONE IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD HAS TESTED POSITIVE for the coronavirus, keep the entire household at home. Do not go to work. Do not go to school. Contact your medical provider.
  • IF YOU ARE A OLDER PERSON, stay home and away from other people. 
  • IF YOU ARE A PERSON WTH A SERIOUS UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITION that can put you at increased risk, stay home and away from other people.

Do your part to slow the spread of the coronavirus

  • Work or engage in schooling FROM HOME whenever possible.
  • Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
  • Avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts - USE DRIVE-THRU, PICK UP OR DELIVERY OPTIONS. 
  • AVOID DISCRCTIONARY TRAVEL, shopping trips, and social visits.
  • DO NOT VISIT nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
  • PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE such as washing your hands and limit touching your face.

National Association of Counties

The National Association of Counties (NACo) response to the COVID19 pandemic includes building and updating various website resources for the nation’s county governments to utilize and working with the federal government to provide swift action and relief. Listed below is a quick look at what action NACO is currently taking, it is not a comprehensive list. For more detailed information on the information below please visit the dedicated webpage for COVID-19 by NACo. 

Link: https://www.naco.org/resources/featured/coronavirus-disease-2019

Website Resources

  • NACo has launched a specific COVID-19 resource section on their website.
  • Almost all the state association of counties have built resource pages for their state.
  • NACo is cataloging all of the state and county disaster declarations and they are available by right-clicking on the County Explorer page to see the declaration and date.
  • These declarations can assist counties with language and serve as a boilerplate for best practices.
  • NACo has also included information on their federal advocacy efforts for the federal aid packages.

NACo is currently working on the following federal advocacy efforts:

  • Requesting that the 3rd aid package include more testing equipment and personal protective equipment.
  • More clarification on FEMA assistance; additional funding.
  • Stressing the importance of county behavioral health services that were already stretched and may be exacerbated by the current situation.
  • Calling on Health & Human Services to delay the match requirements for the non-federal share of Medicaid and nutrition programs for children and the elderly.
  • Stressed the importance of the Department of Labor waiving requirements on pensions so counties can bring back retirees if needed for resources.
  • Requesting assistance with funding for municipal bonds and the ability to redeploy some revenue for immediate needs.

Tips for Federal Aid

  • Most federal funding flows form the federal government to the state and then to the local level.
  • Counties need to be working with your state association, community partners, Health & Human Services, and the Center for Disease Control to access funds.
  • If you are involved in Medicaid, please work with your health agencies on the cost and reimbursement for counties.
  • Currently, the largest source for reimbursement is through the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund – FEMA Public Assistance Program.
  • Health & Human Services and FEMA are currently evaluating what is eligible and how it is determined under the Stafford Act which governs FEMA Programs, which have traditionally focused on disasters, but is eligible for pandemic types of emergencies.
  • Counties who have been through disasters know how critical it is to document and have vast experience on lessons learned. NACo can also help connect you to those with more experience.
  • You must have appropriate financial controls to segregate and document your expenses related to the emergency declarations.

Cyber Security Attacks

  • There has been an increase in cybersecurity attacks.
  • The Department of Health & Human Services was hacked on Twitter with false information proclaiming a national government lockdown.
  • Counties must work with employees and their IT departments to be on guard for fake emails, false information, etc. especially while working remotely.

For more detail information on the federal response and the passage of the relief bills please view NACo’s analysis.