Topics in This Issue:
- COVID-19 and Domestic Violence
- COVID Testing
- COVID Data
- Another Kind of Safety – F35 Update
- Ward 6 Community and Meeting Rooms
- Students and COVID-19
- Southern Arizona Green Business Alliance
- Tumamoc Hill Opens
- Be Kind
- Local Tucson
- Suspicious Packages
- Move Tucson
- City of Tucson Resources
- Online Events
This weekly blue light tribute is for health care workers. It’s also for our public safety workers. Friday the 15th was the day many of us usually meet down at TPD HQ for National Peace Officers Memorial Day. This year it had to be done through a video message from Chief Magnus. We all would have preferred to be sitting next to each other, and importantly, next to the families and loved ones of our fallen officers.
Tucson’s Police Department has lost 8 officers in the line of duty. This is the sad list of men who have given their life in service to our community:
Erik Hite – June 2nd, 2008
Patrick Hardesty – May 26th, 2003
Jeffrey Ross – February 18th, 1982
James Smith – October 28th, 1980
Barry Headricks – October 28th, 1974
Robert Cummins – September 3rd, 1936
William Katzenstein – July 26th, 1902
William Elliot – July 3rd, 1892
We are grateful to all who did, and who continue to serve in all of our public safety agencies.
Hill Bailey’s fund raiser continues to inch closer to its $45K goal. How about if all of us who join in thanks to our ‘blue light’ public servants click the link and send the Drive Thru for Tucson’s Front Line program $20. It all goes to a local restaurant which will use the money to buy food for hospital workers and police/fire throughout the region.
Last week Fork N Fire Food Truck took care of the Oro Valley PD and FD. Haus of Brats fed all of Rural Metro Fire. Los Loco Tacos took care of TPD Substation 3. Quesadillas & More, along with Hawaiian Shaved Ice fed the entire Marana PD, and Haus of Brats Food Truck fed fire fighters in Tucson, Tubac and Green Valley. Here’s the link for you to get involved: https://tinyurl.com/s8jkrk4. This supports local business, and local heros.
This is 28 year old Maria Pew. She was adopted as an infant in Mexico City and grew up with her new family in Minnesota. She graduated Cum Laude, and was on her way. Sadly, coronavirus resulted in Maria being ‘sheltered in place’ with an abusive partner. I’ve written about this issue in previous newsletters. It’s not fiction. Maria was killed by her husband while shuttered inside the house with the guy during COVID.
There’s a website set up to fund the Cornerstone Domestic Abuse advocacy center in Bloomington, Minnesota. It’s in support of their version of Emerge, and is in honor of Maria. The link for donating to Maria’s Voice is https://www.mightycause.com/story/Mariapew.
Our own local DV team is Emerge. They’re at www.emergecenter.org. They too can use your support. I know the work they’re doing has escalated in intensity during the COVID shut down. Please stay connected with people you feel may be in tough relationships. Call Emerge if you have any questions. Their 24 hour hotline is 795.4266.
Last week we put into place the framework for conducting widespread testing. The framework will include a working group which will be convened by the City Manager. At that table will be the County, the UA, and I insisted hospitals and clinics also be involved. Testing is important. Having the experts in the field all included in the conversation makes it make sense. Here’s the motion we voted to approve:
"Vice Mayor Cunningham clarified that his motion was for the City Manager to coordinate with the University of Arizona, Pima County Health Department and local healthcare providers to initiate a testing program, starting with City employees and transitioning to the public. The underlying goal is to test 1,000 people a day for the next 45 days."
Ok, we’re not going to test “1,000 people per day for the next 45 days.” The supplies don’t exist for that. And we probably couldn’t find that many people who’d want to be tested. But we have CARES Act money to invest in this. I’ve had conversations with medical providers from throughout the City and know they’re ready to help. There are docs, nurses and techs on furlough. There are clinics they can stand-up tomorrow if we funded them. If our goal is to expand testing, that’s an easy goal to achieve – fund the hospitals that are right now suffering financially and let the experts get the work done. We’ll see if that’s how this plays out once the working group sits down together.
The reality is that testing is already happening in the region. The UA has done some, and Pima County continues to support testing. I include the number of tests done in each newsletter. Here’s the running total:
So having the UA and the County at the table is redundant. There’s also already a regular phone conversation that includes regional partners in which all sorts of COVID issues are discussed. The City is a part of that call, so if we wanted to fund a testing program, we already have access to the people who are running them. I made 2 phone calls before the vote to confirm the interest and availability. It took 10 minutes. So I’m not exactly sure what this new City Manager organized group is bringing to the issue that doesn’t already exist – and I stated as much during the M&C meeting.
The City Manager has been asked to convene the group and likely will learn that the UA’s interest is in testing faculty, staff and students coming back to campus. He’ll also likely learn that Pima County will want to continue testing vulnerable categories of people, as they are now. Testing supplies are tough to come by, so I doubt either group is going to want to drop their current focus and test City workers. That leaves the hospitals and clinics, who, as I pointed out to M&C, have workers on furlough who can come back and do this work tomorrow. Again, we don’t need a new working group to learn any of that. That’s why I insisted we have health care providers included. Hopefully we can get this new program ramped up after one meeting and fund the professionals in what really should be their focus, not ours.
There are 2 kinds of COVID tests. One is called an Antibody test. It tells you whether or not you’ve had the virus. Say you were sick in February, before COVID hit the news. This test will tell you whether that was COVID, or some other bug. If it was COVID, you may well have some level of immunity. The caveat is that the experts don’t know how long, if at all, that immunity lasts. And some of the tests have yielded ‘false positive’ results. So even a positive shouldn’t be read as setting you free to go out and party, assuming you’re immune.
The other kind of test is what we’ll be giving through this new program. It’s a virology test that simply tells you whether you’ve currently got the virus. It takes a few days before symptoms appear, so you could be contagious without knowing you’re sick with COVID. The medical people say you’re most contagious when signs first become evident. With this test (called a PCR test) you can be negative today, but could get sick tomorrow. A negative test on Day 1 says nothing about your health status on Day 2. If the program the M&C put into place is going to be meaningful over time, it will need to include repeated tests of anyone whose test came in negative. I’m sure the medical people will make that clear when the City Manager convenes the group.
There were several universal take-aways from my conversations with medical experts ahead of the vote. Most importantly, there’s no sense in setting up a new system. The infrastructure and personnel are in place. Use what’s there. All it needs is some funding. We have that with the CARES money. Also, focus on symptomatic and vulnerable populations. And do the testing in a way that is geographically diverse throughout the community. We need to see how widespread the virus is, not just where there may or may not be pockets in certain areas of the valley.
There’s also the issue of materiel availability. If we don’t have the supplies, we can’t do the tests. Our Emergency Operations Center, in concert with the County is actively pursuing testing supplies and PPE for the people who’ll administer the tests.
My vote was to turn this over to the people who know the stuff, and can stand-up clinics tomorrow if we fund them. Anything other than that is a waste of resources, both human and financial. We’ll see though what comes out of the City Manager’s meeting once it’s convened.
There are also testing sites still being coordinated by the State. Each of them will conduct testing on Saturday, May 30th. Each requires that you make a reservation in advance, so call ahead. The 5 locations for this region include:
MHC Healthcare at 2325 N. Wyatt. They test from 7:30am until 10:30am, but you must pre-register by phone. Their number is 682.4111.
El Rio’s Southeast Clinic is at 6950 E. Golf Links. They’ll do their testing from 7am until noon on the 30th. This site will limit tests to their existing patients. Call at 670.3909.
El Rio will also be testing on the 30th at their 839 W. Congress location. Those tests will be given from 7am until noon, and will also be limited to existing El Rio patients. Call the 670.3909 number to register for this location, too.
FastMed Urgent Care at 2510 E. Broadway will run tests on the 30th from 8am until 4pm. You have to pre-register by phone. Their number is 232.2072. You can also use their website to pre-register:
And Escalera Health will test from 7am until noon on the 30th. They’re located at 2224 N. Craycroft. They’re asking you to do the pre-registration through their website:
If you want to be tested for coronavirus, there are lots of options that already exist. My hope for the M&C’s interest in getting City workers tested is that we do what makes sense and write a CARES check to a local hospital such as TMC who can stand up a testing clinic in very short order. Please realize though, that getting a test is an interesting point of information for you – for that day. For over 90% of us all it will tell you is that you’re negative, and that you must remain careful when out in public.
Here’s the ADHS COVID map from 2 weeks ago:
And our weekly comparison, this reading from Memorial Day evening:
And the comparison of the raw numbers from last week,
To the Memorial Day numbers. These are Statewide:
I keep bringing these data each week because they’re supposed to be guiding reopening decisions. Remember the CDC’s recommended criteria for tracking a safe resumption of whatever ‘normal’ daily activities will be. They include 14 straight days of declining infection numbers, testing capacity (above I noted that we are not close to testing widely,) the ability to contact trace newly infected people (we’re nowhere near close on that one, either,) sufficient PPE (our backlogs continue,) and enough beds in ICUs for new patients. We have those. Currently.
And that first criterion? The data for the past 14 days shows we’re not close to meeting that standard, either.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said “if we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to Open America Again, then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering, and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”
You can track the State data every day at www.azdhs.gov.
Last week I shared a picture of the activity outside Frog ‘n’ Firkin. This week, it’s Chuy’s out on the east side. I poached this image from Luzdelia Caballero’s KGUN9 story that ran last Friday night. I understand that the event was a fund raiser for a biker who lost his life. But this behavior may cost more lives. It’s irresponsible, and it shows a disregard for the well being of others in the community.
There aren’t 6” between those people, much less 6’. The Star ran a survey asking how people felt about going back out into public. One of their questions was ‘now that stay at home is being lifted, how safe do you feel going back into public, even with social distancing in place?’ Over 70% are either feeling extremely unsafe, or unsafe. Here’s their data by age breakdown.
It’s interesting to me that the 25-34 year old age group’s responses nearly directly match the 65-74 year old’s. I’m guessing that’s young families who have that extra concern over their kids’ safety. And they likely have some 65 year old + parents who they don’t want to infect if they act irresponsibly.
The Chuy’s group, as with the Frog ‘n’ Firkin – and anecdotally I hear Dirtbags, too – are among the single digit ‘safe’ group.
The County rules for restaurants that I shared with you last week have been modified. Remember, the County was sued by 3 Oro Valley State reps for having implemented those new rules. The County folks have also been in the midst of meeting with multiple restaurant and bar owners to get their feedback on the first iteration of rules. Last Thursday, they made some tweaks to the 17 guidelines that had originally been issued.
In the first cycle of regulations, the County called for restaurants to prohibit entry of anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Due to some stated insurance-related issues, that requirement is now changed to only posting the County’s notice about COVID-19 telling customers to not enter if they have symptoms. That takes the burden off from the proprietor to do any enforcing.
The County originally had limited indoor occupancy to 50%, or less. They’ve now modified that to allow indoor occupancy at 50%, unless by applying the physical distancing measures inside, the business can squeeze in more tables.
Also, in the first go-round of County rules, they said “Service by take out, reservation or call ahead seating only...” They’ve clarified that reservations or call/text/email ahead is not necessary for drive-thru or curbside service.
The first set of rules also called for “physical distancing of 6’ minimum between tables.” That’s now adjusted to allow for bar seating as long as there’s 6’ between customers. Nothing about distancing to protect the servers, though.
And finally, the original set of rules had a civil penalty attached for violating the County Health-driven rules. That penalty is now removed and replaced with simply a notice of violation issued by the County and sent to the business.
I’ve shared with some of my County contacts that I doubt these changes will stop the Attorney General investigation, but good for them for listening to business owners and trying to reach a reasonable compromise.
I get calls pretty much daily from people who are upset that other customers in stores are not wearing masks. A business can require that. The City or the County cannot mandate it in a private business. It kind of presents this conundrum for those of us who’d like to see the virus spread reduced and eliminated:
It’s not clichéd, even though we hear it often these days, and see it as email taglines:
I do have one plea – please don’t litter your masks and gloves. I run and walk all over the City and every day now I see trashed masks, sanitary wipes and gloves. Somebody has to clean them up. You wear it because you’re concerned with the safety of others. That needs to also translate into being concerned for the person who has to pick up messes like this:
Leaving this stuff behind creates a health risk for someone who has to clean it up. Plus, c’mon. It’s litter.
I met with the Colonia Solana neighbors a while back and we had a good discussion about the F35. That’s the multi-billion dollar aircraft that is being considered for basing at DM. Colonia Solana is one of the midtown neighborhoods in the flight path, so they had concerns. So do I.
Many of the concerns we share are validated in the military’s own Environmental Impact study. I’ve shared snippets from that survey in previous newsletters. They include a socially inequitable impact on low income and minority neighborhoods, excessive noise, and extremely high costs. Last week Military Times ran some articles that support another of our concerns; safety.
The F35 is a single engine aircraft. Even while being produced for sale, it’s still being redesigned to address on-going safety issues. Given the fact that it’s always going to be a single engine plane, one of the safety vulnerabilities won’t be fixed. That’s birds.
At Eglin Air Force Base in Florida last week, an F35 got into a sort of dogfight in the air – against a bird.
It was a tie. Clearly the bird was in pretty bad shape after the collision. But the $90M plane took a nose dive, crashed and is also now on the Disabled List indefinitely. Thankfully, the pilot ejected safely.
Nobody on the ground was hurt. If something like this happened on approach to DM, the crash could impact homes in midtown, the UA campus and homes on the southeast side.
The USAF and Department of Defense are making their basing decisions. Tucson is not right now the number one candidate. If they look at the flight path, and consider the lives that could be impacted if a bird brings down one of the aircraft, Tucson should not jump the queue and be awarded the planes.
The COVID-19 shut down won’t last forever. But it will have long lasting impacts on how we can use the Ward 6 meeting rooms. Right now we’re taking reservations for July 1st, and after. We know we won’t be opening up to group meetings before then, so if you want to get on the calendar, send us your group information, along with the dates/times you’re interested in. We’ll try to accommodate what you’re after. Right now the reservations are for July, August and September. We’ll reevaluate as the year progresses.
One of the changes you’ll need to be aware of is that we’re going to require people using the space to wear some sort of face covering. That can be one of the store-bought masks, or your own hand-made one. But for the protection of everyone in the space, you must have a covering while inside the building.
We will provide sanitizer. We’re going to ask you to clean the surfaces you’re in contact with before your group leaves. And we’ll recommend you do a wipe down as your group enters. Don’t assume the group ahead of you took care of their own cleaning. We’ll provide the wipes, though.
The meetings will now all be during business hours, Monday through Friday. The exceptions will be for meetings in which a City staff person, or someone from my staff will be present. We are responsible for ensuring the new rules are adhered to, so groups won’t have the run-of-the-place any longer.
The Boards, Committees and Commissions that have met here each have a City staffer present. But some of them will have trouble meeting the new social distance requirements. These pictures show the new Community Room, and Meeting Room configurations. When you place 6’ around everyone, the room size shrinks pretty quickly.
The Community room will now have a seating capacity of 13 people.
The East Meeting Room will now have a seating capacity of 12 people:
And the West Meeting Room will have a new occupancy capacity of 10 people:
This will evolve as the City’s recovery from coronavirus evolves. For now though, it’s the ‘new normal’ people have wondered about – at least as far as using the Ward 6 rooms is concerned. Please use this link to let us know about your reservation interests.
Our partners over at the Metropolitan Education Commission (MEC) are doing an outreach to students. They’re hosting a virtual student forum this Thursday, from 3pm until 4:30pm. The information for signing on is included in the flyer below.
MEC wants to hear from students about their concerns related to the upcoming school year. I know each of the local school districts is working hard to put safety protocols into place, and get to the point where in-person classes can resume in August. The input they get through forums like this will help them as they make plans.
The forum is also an opportunity for students to share some of the ways this shutdown is impacting them as people. I know we’re all feeling stuffed in and none of this fits how we social animals are used to behaving. How are you as a young person being affected? MEC wants you to join the forum and share your thoughts and feelings.
There’s no cost for participating, but the value could be immeasurable. Please pass this along to your young people and invite them into the meeting. It’s open to all, regardless of which school district you’re attending.
Many of you will remember Claire Kaufman. She transitioned out of Jonathan’s office over here to Ward 6 after the November, 2019 election. She has since moved over to Local First Arizona and is heading up the Green Business Alliance. It’s an initiative she began working on while in the former Mayor’s office, and continued to develop while here at Ward 6. It’s now up and running.
The goal is to get businesses the tools they need to reduce unnecessary energy, water and waste that occur in their buildings. Implementing ‘green practices’ can save money – not a bad idea with the economic hit all businesses have taken in the past 2 months.
Local First Arizona is partnering with the 2030 District to network the program out into the wider community. There are various levels of certification your business can achieve, depending on how deep a dive into the work you’re prepared to take. Claire and her counterparts can walk you through the options. You decide the level you want to shoot for.
You can check out all of the options, and get connected with the group by going to their website at www.SAZGBA.com. You can also call at 602.956.0909, x12. Check them out. It can only save you money, and it will save us all in terms of how each business uses the energy and water resources we need to preserve.
Over 2 months ago, The UA shut down the road to walkers and joggers. Yesterday, on Memorial Day they reopened it. The trek up to the summit is just under 1.5 miles. It can be a decent workout, or can just be a nice leisurely walk.
Under the new guidelines, everyone doing the hill will need to wear a face covering, and they will need to stay 6’ apart from others. Group sizes are going to be limited to 3, or fewer. You’ll see hand sanitizing stations set up along the road.
From 6am until 8am, the hill is reserved for walkers/runners who are age 65 or older. If you’re younger than that, but you have a pre-existing health condition, you’re ok to join during those hours, too.
This is a desert lab owned and operated by the UA. Please stay on the road, don’t disturb the wildlife you see, and try to resist the old tradition of touching the gate at the top of the hill before you head back down. It’s that ‘transmission of the virus by physical contact thing’ that they’re trying to avoid.
This little guy is Ed, the baby goat. Ed weighs 20 lbs. He’s a resident at the Filbert Street Community Garden in Baltimore. The people running the garden were pretty upset last week when they came to work and found Ed MIA. Some kids were seen on video sneaking in and stealing Ed.
The Garden folks put out an APB on Ed through social media, and the regular media. They offered a $300 reward for his return, no questions asked. Ed was still weaning from his mom and would die if kept away for long. I think the Be Kind is for all of those who took part in trying to get him back, but a Be Kind with an asterisk for the kids who snuck back and ‘anonymously’ brought Ed home. They did not ask for the reward.
This Be Kind is for the folks over at Chasse. They’re building the Partners on 4th building, but are also investing themselves in community education. That’s for TUSD, Amphi, Flowing Wells, Vail and the Marana school districts.
You know that the class of 2020 pretty much missed out on the end of year celebrations. Chasse is doing one for them, virtually. They’re sponsoring an on-line drawing for graduating seniors. You can access it at CHASSE.us/Classof2020
The gifts include a Grad Pack with an Apple iPad, plus some Amazon gift cards. The drawing will be random, and it’ll be done by June 5th. Nothing to lose by entering. Thanks to the Chasse group for stepping towards our high school seniors.
This Be Kind is also our Local Tucson item for this week. Monday, June 8th is right now being targeted as the beginning of Phase I for reopening the City. That’s still TBD, based on what happens with the virus in the next couple of weeks, but one event is set, for sure.
The City Manager’s Office is organizing a Clean the City Initiative that’ll run the week of June 8th. City workers will take part, but it’s also a call out to you and your neighbors to focus on just making our City look great during the first step towards reopening.
I know my neighbors already take on landscape maintenance on our islands and circles. We’ve also got a group maintaining our little pocket park. I’m also aware that neighborhoods throughout Ward 6 do the same. If between now and June 8th you could send out the word to your neighbors to choose an island or choose a traffic circle to be yours during that week. How about a few blocks of the Right of Way on the connector or arterial that’s adjacent to your neighborhood. Wear some gloves, sunscreen and pick up some trash, or pull some weeds. This is our ‘Welcome back’ to community. It won’t be like it used to be, but whatever it is will be a whole lot nicer if it’s clean. The Be Kind is for everyone who takes part – and for City Manager Ortega for kickstarting the project.
It’s bad enough that we’re all cooped up, but now we’re also being asked to keep an eye out for suspicious looking packages. Right now it’s government buildings that are being targeted, but if someone’s nuts enough to send out dangerous material to us, they’re capable of sending it to you, too.
This isn’t just a local issue. Nationally, suspicious letters with white powder are being mailed again. This seems to pop up every few years. We got some at one of the TFD stations – nobody was injured.
Please look closely at this flyer that was prepared for us by the FBI. It gives the tell-tale signs that the package you’ve received isn’t probably the Price Waterhouse people sending you a prize. Please call 911 if you receive anything that flags your concern. We have an Explosives and Hazardous Devices Detail that is trained to handle this sort of stuff.
Move Tucson is our long range transportation master plan. It’s in the planning stage right now, and if you haven’t given it already, we’d like your input. There were some early in-person meetings, but now, due to COVID, we’re doing them virtually. Sometimes technology throws us a curve. That happened during our last town hall and some people couldn’t access the event. But we’re patient and think our next time up will be a fast ball down the middle – it'll all work and we want you to be a part of it.
There are two more virtual town halls coming. Both will be on Thursday, May 28th. The one at noon will be in Spanish, only. The one at 6pm is bilingual. These will be presentations to bring you up to speed on the planning progress. The planning team will go through the on-line material with you and let you know how you can get more deeply involved. This isn’t just about making our roads more car-friendly. It’s about transportation of all modes, and how we can make our transportation corridors places where we enjoy the community of each other. That day will come again, despite coronavirus.
Here are the links and the information on how to sign into each of the meetings. If you’d like to take a pre-forum look at the material, go to www.movetucson.org.
Noon Event (Spanish only)
6:00pm Event (Bilingual)
Bring your creative spirit to these forums. These are a few current examples of transportation-related ideas I’ve been pushing. One is shutting down some of our streets and allowing business and activities to take over the space. It’s not inviting people to do the Chuy’s thing and violate all of our social distance protocols, but instead to set up spaces where we can help our local businesses, and invite people to gather safely.
I’ve floated the idea of Congress, Scott, Pennington, 4th and 6th Avenue. The conversation is in its infancy, so before any of those get legs, there’ll be plenty of outreach. Of course anything we approve will have to be properly socially distanced, and the County Health Department rules will be in effect.
Another idea is what happened over in Feldman’s a couple of weeks ago. It’s the Safe Streets/Slow Streets idea. Some Cities do it this way.
Our TDOT people loaned out traffic barricades and posted signage so the Feldman’s neighbors could share the road with cars that were slowed down by the placement of the barricades. In neighborhoods where green space isn’t readily available, this is one way to expand our ‘play space.’ I’ve written about this idea in recent newsletters, encouraging you to reach out to us if you’d like to set up a safe street – please don’t just put a kitchen chair in the road like I’ve seen in one neighborhood and hope it’ll slow traffic.
Another idea that fits with the Move Tucson forum is the current conversation I’m having with TDOT and TPD about expanding the use of protected left hand turn signals at major intersections. We had yet another fatal motorcycle collision a couple of weeks ago that may have been prevented by that form of traffic control device. Slow, and safe. Bring your thoughts to the forum and be a part of this planning process.
Finally, you hear the chants at sporting events “we’re #1...” Well, right now Tucson is #24 in the State in terms of responses to the Census. That’s not anything to write home about. But here’s what makes it worse:
Pima County is #1 Statewide for Counties. How in the world can we Tucsonans let that stand? Look at Oro Valley - 73% response rate. Sahuarita is 70%. Marana is 64%. We’re getting our doors blown off by these little towns. We need to do better.
For the first time, you can do your Census either on-line, by phone or by mail. We’re all shuttered in place – just take a few minutes, break your boredom and do the Census. It’s worth tens of millions of dollars to the City over the next 10 years. That’s money that will go to help the needy in our community. It’s for vital needs – and it takes minutes for you to get involved.
Go to www.2020census.gov and it’ll walk you through the process. Or, give Crystal a call here at the Ward 6 office and she’ll get you through it. Her number is 837.4238. We’ve got to do better than 24th - especially with the County sitting on top of the standings.
Council Member, Ward 6
- COVID-19 Updates: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/covid-19/covid-19-updates
- I Want To... : https://www.tucsonaz.gov/i-want-to
If your group has a virtual event you would like to submit to us for sharing, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and include all information, thank you.
Thu, May 28, 2020
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM PDT
How can we truly understand the perspective of another person? How do we uncover the essentials that unite us, when our views and experiences can seem so different?
Register for the onine conversation here: