Paul's Note - August 14, 2020

We’ve been doing COVID-19 testing at Udall Park for the last week or so. It’s relatively easy to sign up and get the testing done. I know this because I made an appointment and got tested earlier this week.

It takes five minutes to sign up. All you need to do is go to www.pima.gov/covid19testing and click on the Schedule My Test link for Udall, or call 800-369-3584 to schedule an appointment. The test itself was easy too, and there was nearly no waiting.

Why is testing important? Well, there are two organizations in town that I know of that were able to find out that some of their personnel tested positive. Both were able to take measures that prevented them from exposing more people.

Making free testing available to Tucsonans has been a priority for me throughout this crisis, and I’m glad that Pima County has partnered with the city in this effort. Aside from the personal measures we should all be taking (hand washing, wearing a mask, social distancing), the best way for us to get this virus under control is testing and contact tracing. The county has 40 people working at a contact tracing center at Kino, a number that will more than double by the end of the month.

In cooperation with Paradigm Laboratories, Pima County is spending $7 million in CARES Act money on testing residents. My colleagues and I voted another $2 million in CARES Act money that will enable another center to be opened.

None of the testing at these centers that Paradigm is running requires a referral from a doctor and, more importantly, testing is free. Another important thing about these tests is how quickly results are available. There have been issues with tests that take well over a week to process. These results will come back in 72 hours.

My staff has been talking to an organization that is looking to do more free community testing at locations in Ward 2. We’d like to see as many of you that think you’ve been exposed get tested as possible, so we will keep you up to date.

-

My staff had a briefing from out transportation director, Diana Alarcon. The briefing was in preparation for a longer presentation the department will be giving to Mayor and Council next month.

One thing you may not realize is that the transportation department is responsible for flood control issues within Tucson. The briefing covered changes in our flood control “map.” This means there are properties, particularly in Ward 2, that will need to purchase flood insurance. The good news about that is that because of policies implemented by the city, there is a discount of between 10 and 20 percent for residents of Tucson.

This summer’s Bighorn Fire brings up some special flood control issues, particularly in some of the washes in Ward 2. I hope to cover some of these issues over the coming weeks.

Transportation had some more good news. In July, we had 66 new reports of potholes. 121 were closed. Also, there were 73 new requests for neighborhood maintenance (signs, re-painting and other things that don’t involve repairing pavement), and 142 were closed.

Wait a second, I hear you say, how is it possible to close more cases than were opened? Well, we developed a backlog, unfortunately. Over this summer, Ms. Alarcon has made it a priority to close those backlogged cases. We are now at a point where a pothole call will be responded to in an average of five days.

Thank you, Diana. You are doing a fantastic job.

-

If you need rental or utility assistance because of the pandemic, the city is using $4.5 million in cares act money to help. Click here for more information.

-

Captain Justin Lane has ably led Operations Division East for the last few years. My staff has enjoyed working with Captain Lane. We get a variety of requests that we have to forward to our local police commanders, and he and his team were nothing but responsive. I have appreciated not only his service to our community, but his friendship and counsel. We will miss him as he will be moving to a new role as a part of the Counter-Narcotics Alliance.

That means we will be getting a new captain in ODE. That captain will be Colin King. Capt. King brings a variety of experience, including time as Chief Chris Magnus’s Chief of Staff. It was in that role that I got to work with him when we were putting together a new pay package for officers last year. He was a great partner in those discussions, and I’m confident that we can continue that partnership in his new role.