Below are the latest developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:
Safford, Thatcher declare a State of Emergency
The Thatcher Council met and signed a resolution of a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Safford Council did the same Tuesday, albeit during a telephonic conference.
Safford City Manager Horatio Skeete explained that by signing the resolution, it sets up the city to receive federal funding should it become available. It also gives him, the mayor and vice mayor the power to make decisions "in the best interest of the city."
Mayor Jason Kouts was unable to participate in the meeting because he is in self-quarantine because he is ill, Skeete said. He's not spoken to him directly for a couple of days.
Although the City of Safford continues to operate, Skeete said City Hall, the library, the annex and the engineering building are closed to the public.
"We're going to refine services and the way we deliver them constantly and we'll be posting updates on our website," he said.
Already, Skeete said people who use Xpress Bill Pay can now select the date when they wish to make a payment. Up until now, customers had a fixed due date. New customers must sign up for XPress Bill Pay by April 30 to receive a $10 incentive.
Thatcher Town manager Heath Brown said the State of Emergency was necessary because they will need funding to support local businesses that are impacted by the ongoing restrictions.
"If the town itself has to bring in substitute workers if people are being quarantined maybe we can get reimbursement for things like that," he said. "We also instituted a policy that if town employees need to be quarantined we will help them with leave time so they don’t have to use up all their leave time for those reasons.”
The Safford Library starting curbside pickup
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Safford library users will be able to request books and DVDs for pickup starting Wednesday.
•5 items total per household
•Items must be placed on hold to qualify for curb side pickup
•Call 928-432-4165 or place holds at https://saffordlibrary.booksys.net/opac/scgcl/index.html…
a.Log in with your library card number as both username and password (don’t use the P!)
b.Choose books and place them on hold. Limit 5 total per household.
•Holds placed after 1 p.m. will be available the next business day.
•Pick up between noon – 6 p.m. Call us at 928-432-4169 when you are in front of the library and we will bring books to you. Please remain in our vehicle and have your library card or picture ID ready.
ADHS releases latest numbers
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona is up to 20 from 18. The number of positive cases in Graham County remains at one.
Of the 20, a dozen of the tests were performed at the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory. The rest were done at private labs.
There have been 221 people tested by the state, 142 people tested negative. Another 66 tests are pending, including those of Pima Elementary School children who were exposed to the virus last week by a staff member.
Bashas holding special hours for seniors
Bashas announced that starting Wednesday, its stores will open from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. specifically for people 65 and older.
Shoppers will be required to show a valid I.D. at the door.
If there is a need for a caretaker, one caretaker is welcome, but will not be allowed to shop for themselves.
All purchase limitations will remain in effect.
SEACUS building a pantry for seniors
Royce Hunt-Bell, SEACUS executive director announced Tuesday her organization is building a pantry for senior citizens and if anyone is "lucky enough to score tissue, Lysol, soap or any other basic necessities" she would like people to consider dropping them off at South Eastern Arizona Community Unique Services, 1124 W Thatcher Blvd., Safford.
Red Cross puts out a plea for help
According to a news release, the American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are needed now to donate to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.
Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood with the Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
To date, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to social distancing policies. These cancellations have resulted in 86,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80% of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at locations of this type.
This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer.
UA psychologist offers tips on coping
David Sbarra, a University of Arizona psychology professor offers the following advice to help cope with anxiety and other social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
• Find time to connect with your loved ones. Ask questions, explore how they're feeling and coping. Provide support.
• Keep a routine. Don't give in to binge watching shows or following the news all day. Sleep, prepare meals, exercise, socialize, relax.
• Explore new activities. Go to the park, visit the mountains, garden, exercise, read, make art, learn to meditate or play music.
• Check trusted and reliable sources a few times a day. Don't rely on social media.
Local police, deputies taking steps to protect themselves
The Thatcher Police Department lobby is closed to the public, but the department can still be reached by telephone. Citizens who call are being asked beforehand whether they have any possible symptoms or are dealing with an individual who has possible symptoms. Like other local institutions, the Thatcher Police Department is advising social distancing.
"It would be very detrimental to our department to have one of our officers quarantined, because we don't have that many," said Police Chief Shaffen Woods.
Woods said officers are provided with rubber gloves and, if needed, masks. Officers are being asked to deal with the public by telephone when possible, to reduce unnecessary contact.
Woods added that, for the time being, the department might be unable to provide the same level of such courtesy services as giving citizens rides, unlocking vehicles with keys locked inside and responding in person to private property accidents.
Pima Police Chief Diane Cauthen said officers were being advised to wash their hands after contact with others and to stay home if they are ill.
The doors at the Pima Police Department remain unlocked when the office is occupied.
Graham County Undersheriff Jeff McCormies said the sheriff's office, as well as the Adult Detention Facility, are telling employees who are sick not to come to work.
The sheriff's office is placing increased emphasis on disinfecting handcuffs after use. McCormies said masks are available for jail employees if needed, but that no employees are wearing them as of yet. As far as booking procedure, some questions regarding symptoms have been added and staff is taking the temperature of individuals being booked.
All non-essential visitations to the jail, including clergy visits, have been suspended for at least 30 days. This excludes visits with attorneys, medical personnel and professional counselors. Video visitation will remain available.
MVD encouraging people to use online services
Residents needing to conduct business with the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division are encouraged to explore more than 30 available online services instead of office visits.
Two-thirds of MVD services are available online, including:
•Replacement Driver License or Identification Card
•Vehicle Registration Renewal
•Insurance Update and Vehicle Reinstatement
Please keep checking back for further news.