Paul's Note - May 22nd, 2020

We haven’t done nearly enough COVID-19 testing in Pima County. According to the Daily Star, 588 were tested the first weekend at the beginning of the month, with 735 and 1500 in subsequent weeks. They are hoping to test 3,000 this weekend. Even with the increases, we are a long way from having enough people tested to ensure that the public is safe.

I’ve been working on getting a testing program for Tucsonans, and we passed a plan at this week’s council meeting. The goal I’ve set is for 100,000 tests over the course of ten weeks. There is also money set aside for a convalescent plasma program and antibody testing. Much of this can be funded through money in the CARES Act, with work done in local labs and at the University of Arizona.

If we want our businesses open, employees and customers need to be assured that they are safe. The Star ran a piece on what my colleagues and I passed.

It will be a few weeks before Tucson’s program is ramped up, but there is also the ongoing “Testing Blitz” run by Pima County and the Arizona Department of Health Services. It is too late to sign up for this weekend’s “blitz,” but I’ve posted locations for next week’s testing on my website.

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Last week, I wrote about the Community Investment Corporation’s effort to support local business. They aren’t the only local program doing so.

The We Are One/Somos Uno Resiliency Fund, managed by the Business Development Finance Corporation (BDFC), has no-interest loans available for Tucson small businesses. Since the loan program rolled out in April, more than $300,000 has been awarded of the $1 million authorized by my colleagues and I to assist local small businesses. The remainder of the funds will be allocated for direct loans to businesses that are minority-, women-, veteran-, or disability-owned and/or located in low-to-moderate income areas.

Eligible businesses must be located within Tucson city limits, have a valid City of Tucson business license, and be registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) in good standing. Sole proprietors do not have to be registered with the ACC. The deadline to apply is midnight, May 26. For more information on these loan programs, go to the BDFC website or contact the City of Tucson Small Business Hotline at (520) 837-4100.

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This is National EMS Week, which was proclaimed in 1974 by President Ford. I’d like to give my personal thanks to our EMS personnel that have been doing amazing and, yes, dangerous service over these past weeks. I gained a great appreciation of the dedication and compassion that this work takes during my time as a medic in the Army. Tucson appreciates all of you.

Keep in mind that many EMS workers have died over the past few months as a result of serving people that have been infected with COVID-19. The American College of Emergency Physicians have a list of EMS personnel that have died of Coronavirus. Read the list and keep them in your prayers.