Steve K's Newsletter 07/27/20

Topics in this Issue:

About two months ago, one of my colleagues approached me about the City leading a coronavirus testing program. My advice to him at the time was that we ‘stay in our lane and let the public health agency for the region run it.’ We have funding through the CARES act which we should have been using in that effort. At last week’s Mayor and Council meeting, we finally agreed to write the County a check and support their work. This is a public health issue and not one that should be guided by who gets credit.

This blue light item is for the staff at the Pima County health department, and for the Paradigm staff who have been out in the 100-degree heat running their testing program out at Kino. 
 

Throughout the COVID process I’ve stayed in touch with the County public health people, County administration, administration on campus and at private health care providers. I shared with Mayor and Council that the UA is preparing to administer antigen tests to all 6,600 students who are signed up to return to campus. That will be their focus. And the County is partnering with ASU for a testing site on the northwest side. That northwest site will be at the Ellie Towne Community Center (1660 W. Ruthrauff). They’re ready – and have been – to partner with us for a site out east. They’re looking at the Udall Recreation Center on Tanque Verde. While the tab will run a bit more than we allocated, the $2M we put into the partnership will get them started. They may have Udall ready to begin testing around the first week in August.

In the meantime, Paradigm and County health have been processing tests within 48 hours and are running between 600 and 800 people per day through the Kino facility. I’m hopeful they see the same success at these 2 new testing locations. 

Working together as a region and staying focused on who brings the appropriate expertise to the table is how we’re going to get through this. We will now soon have testing locations that triangulate the City. Please take advantage of one so you know your own health status. That knowledge will help contain community spread.

Back to School and COVID

Last week I shared the details, as they were at the time, surrounding how the UA is planning a return to campus. Also last week, Kathy Hoffman – State School Superintendent – reached out to the Governor and laid down some very common-sense boundaries she wants in place prior to public schools reopening. Right now, Ducey has focused on a date. Kathy has a broader perspective. 

Anticipating a Thursday Ducey press conference to address the school/COVID issue, I penned another letter to the Governor. While he hasn’t answered any of these yet, I know the message is getting through since each letter also goes to his Public Information guy. Here’s that letter. In it I restate the specifics the School Superintendent requested. I agree with her assessment.

During his press conference this week, in addition to State Health Director Christ, he invited Superintendent Hoffman to join them. During the tag-team presentation, they listed some changes related to public school reopenings. These do not apply to either private or to religious schools – they're free to set their own opening standards.

The August 17th reopening date remains and is a hard date for in-person teaching. This is the language from his Executive Order:

Curiously, when he was asked if everyone had to abide by the August 17th “aspirational” opening date, Ducey recognized that traditionally schools across the State have varied opening dates. Despite what he said, I think the language of the Order is pretty clear that some in-person learning is required to start by the 17th.  By August 7th, the State health folks, in consultation with the Department of Education will issue a set of guidelines. Local school leadership can use those guides to set their own protocols for reopening. I guess we’ll see if any of them challenge the 17th opening date, but regardless of when they actually open there remains a 180-day requirement for instruction, and for districts using distance learning, teacher-led virtual instruction must begin by the first day of the academic school year. 

How a given school district does all of that is a local decision – unlike the Governor’s restricting our ability to make local decisions related to how we choose to control COVID on a local level. 

There will be some commonalities across the State. One is that schools will develop and implement face covering policies. There’ll be some allowance for exceptions for students when they’re for example outside on the playground, or on breaks and social distancing is possible, but generally faculty, staff and students over the age of 5 will follow CDC guidance for wearing masks.

In addition to the benchmarks for in-person/distance teaching, the Governor announced an additional $370M in CARES Act money to support school budgets. Within that there’ll be money for expanding broadband access, money to support high-need (not defined) schools, “$1M in microgrants to support innovative programs,” a million dollars for ASDB, and tutoring support as well. I doubt anyone, even within the State Department of Education actually knows what this whole distance learning education effort is going to cost, but I’ll be surprised if what’s on the table right now makes districts and families whole for what those costs will be. As with all-things-COVID, I suspect this part of the package is fluid.

One of the challenges that’s embedded in the whole set of guidelines that’ll be offered by the AZDHS is that the data they rely on for tracking the infection rates is skewed. It’s skewed due to the fact that over 60,000 test results are backlogged in the labs. During the press conference, the Governor said he hopes that will be resolved before the August 7th date when they plan on issuing the benchmarks for opening to the schools. And they’ve also promised to bring multiple data sets to the conversation. The number of cases is one. Test results is another. The trend line, hospital capacity, tracing ability – there's more to giving guidance to schools than simply pointing to one health metric. 

The Governor committed to basing school openings on data-driven standards. He recognized parental choice will be honored, and will allow for local flexibility, within the 180-day requirement. 

Dr. Christ did acknowledge that the students have been living in their own little bubbles for 4 months. In the normal school year, they experience sickness when school reopens because they’re being reintroduced to new germs. I know when my bride was teaching, and when our little girl was in school, we pretty much counted on one or both of them bringing something home in the first month of school. Now with COVID, and with the prediction of a new swine flu this year, reopening could be quite the adventure from a health perspective. 

Will Humble is the Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association. He is also the former Arizona State Health Director, so the guy brings some street cred to the issue of health matters. Last week he weighed in with some ‘evidence-based criteria’ that he suggests Ducey use for reopening schools. They include:

  • A consistent 30 day reduction in the number of COVID cases in the community – we haven’t strung together a week’s worth of reductions
  • A community positivity rate on testing of under 5% - Arizona is more than double that
  • 80% of case and contact tracing investigations completed within 96 hours of the test – our contact tracing program is just starting to hire workers
  • Community hospitals at under 80% capacity for elective procedures – we see ICU bed capacity figures reported at nearly 90%. That’s a drain on hospital workers. Banner is bringing in around 1,000 workers from out of State to assist. Elective procedures aren’t close to hitting Humble’s metric.

Humble suggests the decision for school reopening be based on a community-by-community assessment of each of those metrics. Ducey and the current health director have not shared their guidelines yet. That’s what we hope to see by August 7th. If they’re anything close to what Humble is suggesting, K-12 is not opening next month.

Stay tuned for the August 7th guidelines. Each household with school aged kids will have a short timeline in which to make their own decisions.

A Comment on Executive Orders and Proclamations

All year we’ve seen Executive Orders from all levels of government setting policy for everything ranging from immigration to COVID, shelter-in-place, education, voting, evictions, and a whole lot more. Go online and Google Governor Ducey Executive Orders and you’ll get a list of 46 Executive Orders since the March start of COVID. Not a single one of those was crafted with the input of the legislative body we voted into place to help guide public policy.

This is happening at the national and local level, too. From our local perspective I know that not a single Mayoral Proclamation that has been put into place in that same time frame was crafted after a discussion involving the entire legislative body. I know that’s true at the Federal level as well.

I’d love to see someone who’s in the position to Order or Proclaim, commit to seeking the counsel of their co-elected officials prior to creating those policy decisions. I just believe that’d make for more informed policy, and would show the people their electeds, even if not unified, at least were a part of the process that led up to the Order/Proclamation. Setting policy unilaterally is not how our system is supposed to work. Unless there’s a missile headed our way, we have time to confer.

Tumamoc Hill Closure?

A few weeks ago, I shared a piece on the reopening of Tumamoc to visitors, walkers, and joggers. A part of that was also to share the concerns being voiced by the UA and UA staff who work on and around the hill. Those concerns were around the issue of people not wearing masks and not adhering to social distance rules. Those rules are posted along the Tumamoc route.

Last week the UA issued a sort of challenge to people who value using the hill as a workout venue. The challenge is to self-police, and to encourage others out doing the same thing to honor the rules in place. The UA has seen up to 1,000 people using the hill daily since the reopening. With that level of popularity, they cannot do the policing themselves. Nor should they have to. Not only the UA, but others on the hill deserve the consideration of others. 

Beginning last Friday, the UA has instituted a 2-week monitoring period. If compliance with the face covering rule is not being followed, they’re going to shut down use of Tumamoc again. Prior to this monitoring period, fewer than 40% of visitors have been doing that. 

My hope is that people who value walking/jogging Tumamoc gently encourage others to start complying with the UA instituted rules. There’ll be an evaluation in a couple of weeks of how people are responding. It’d be great to see everyone on board. We’ll see what peer-to-peer pressure does. That’s what the UA is relying on for off-campus behavior once students return. This will be an interesting test case.


And here’s a Be Kind for the new family for two young kids who lost both of their parents to COVID. Credit KOLD for airing the story last week. It serves as a stark reminder that the virus comes without a conscience. 

https://www.kold.com/2020/07/22/brothers-lose-both-parents-covid-within-weeks/

The mom was 39 years old. Her 14 and 11-year-old sons attended her funeral after she died alone in a hospital. Two weeks later, the 44-year-old dad also died alone from COVID. They will now be raised by their uncle, Jacob, his wife and with their 4 kids.

These kinds of stories are the undercurrent behind decisions being made to reopen schools, prevent local decision-makers from deciding local policy, and even walking on Tumamoc Hill. COVID is for real. CDC guidelines are more than just suggestions for us to consider and toss aside.

Some Good News – Expanding Seating into The Street

A short while back I contacted both our Planning folks and the City Manager to ask about possibly shutting down some streets, or at least how we might facilitate expanding seating areas for downtown restaurants. We need to help them achieve safe seating or we may be losing some of them due to simple math – too many expenses vs too few revenues.

I’m happy to report that we’ve got a few of these moving ahead now. They’re called Temporary Revocable Easements (TRE). To you and me it’s the City allowing restaurants to expand into say some on-street parking spaces so social distance can be achieved. 

Here’s one site diagram for a proposal that’s making its way through our Code and Planning departments. 

The hard bolded line will be a length of ped-rail and the long rectangle you see with the arrows running east and west is a raised seating deck. The City will temporarily lose some designated parking, but the restaurant will gain the ability to expand seating, and hopefully make it through this pandemic.

The example I’ve shown above is Penca. They’re located at 50 E. Broadway. The thought is to allow this through the end of the year, but everyone involved understands that we’ll all be looking at how the virus behaves and may need to reassess that date. We’re right now waiving some of the fees involved so the businesses can focus on regaining customers and surviving.

I won’t go to an indoor seating area at a restaurant right now. The option of outdoor dining may be more appealing to many of us. I hope that if you’re in that camp you’ll support our local businesses by using these TRE dining options. I’m also in contact with the 4th Avenue Merchants Association about doing some more creative applications of this along the Avenue. Hopefully you’ll see several examples like this in the very near term.

More Good News – Expanding WiFi

The map below shows areas of the City in which access to the internet is compromised – either due to no service being offered by providers, or simply because families cannot afford it. The darker the coloration, the more compromised access is in those areas.

Last week, 4 of us on the Council voted to accept a proposal from our I.T. department to invest approximately $9M of our CARES Act money into a two-pronged approach to providing internet access City wide. This is a long-term investment using Federal dollars that we will benefit from even post-COVID. 
The Mayor and Ward 1 objected to our moving forward due to ‘just seeing this for the first time’ during the meeting. Oddly, both of their Chiefs of Staff had been fully briefed on the proposal a week prior to the meeting. I’d hope those staffers followed through and included their bosses in what was coming to us at last week’s meeting. Despite that though, both Paul’s, Nikki and I carried the vote to move the full project ahead. We were told during the meeting that had we not made that decision, we’d lose the opportunity due to the time restrictions placed on when we can use this money.
We have areas on Tucson where nearly ½ of the homes do not have an internet connection. This project will directly address that ‘digital divide.’ And it will take that a step further, expanding the WiFi connectivity throughout the City. The benefits will extend beyond just the in-home access. Running smart-technology traffic control systems relies on this sort of capability. Not only will this program benefit tens of thousands of our residents, it lays the infrastructure for making our streets safer, controlling climate impact by reducing idling at stop lights, and with the phased approach we’ll be addressing the needs of our most underserved areas of the City first. Some of those will include Mission Manor Park, Menlo Park, Freedom Park and Jesse Owens Park areas. 

All credit for the legwork on this project goes to our I.T. Department, and in particular our Director, Colin Boyce. At least 4 of us – those who had not been included in the early briefing for the project – remain a bit surprised we won the vote by such a small margin. But it’s good we did. The City residents will be the beneficiaries for years to come.

More Good News – Tucson as Leaders in Environmental Issues

Enough of you know that I’m still crushing glass bottles that every day there’s a new supply out behind our garage. So far, I’ve turned over to our TDOT people well over 2,000 gallons of ‘sand’. If you’re out at Hi Corbett getting sandbags for the monsoon, you may be filling the bags with what was once a beer bottle in your refrigerator. 

I’m really not hoping to make a career out of crushing bottles. Our Environmental Services Director and his staff are helping me off-load the avocation out to Los Reales landfill. And in the process, we’re on the cusp of introducing 3 exciting new recycle/environmental projects at Los Reales.
Last week, Nikki and I submitted a study session request for an update on work being planned out at Los Reales landfill. There are three primary components, each mentioned in our request letter:

One of the projects is the secondary market for crushed glass. I spent some time on the phone with our City Manager, E.S. Director and City Attorney recently talking about how we might restructure our contract with Republic Services in a way that facilitates going to a commercial scale with the glass recycling effort. They seem to be on board with the concept. Nikki and I will be asking for an update on how that’s moving forward when we have the September 9th study session.

Another piece of the Los Reales package is what’s called Renewable Natural Gas (RNG.) Right now, we run a bus fleet that includes diesel, 30% of them are Compressed Natural Gas (CNG,) and one electric vehicle. Eighty-four percent of our waste collection trucks run on CNG. Out at our Thomas Price Center we have a CNG refueling station. With nearly 200 vehicles relying on that fueling station to be available, we need to upgrade it – to add a station. Recently the Mayor and Council put that upgrade on hold. I voted against that move because ensuring we can adequately fuel our vehicles isn’t something we should be considering a back-burner priority. The M&C wanted to put it on hold until we see the results of our pilot electric bus project. They’re not mutually exclusive – we should do both.

The CNG station at Thomas Price is a part of the update Nikki and I are asking for on the 9th. How? It has to do with RNG.
Trash piles create methane. That’s a gas that’s regulated by the Feds. We are required by law to capture methane and remove it from the atmosphere in the area where we’re ‘creating’ it. That area would be Los Reales. Clearly a landfill that’s made up of trash is creating methane.

Right now, we capture the existing methane by boring tubes into the trash and extracting the gas. We capture the gas and sell it to TEP. TEP doesn’t want it any longer since they’ve diversified their energy portfolio. Also, because the pipeline we use to get it to them is old and nobody has any financial incentive to replace it. An option therefore is capturing it and burning it off. That’s called ‘flaring’ the gas. It’s also called a waste of a potential fuel source. 
If we could capture the gas, clean it and send it to say Thomas Price for example, we could fuel our bus and waste vehicle fleet with it. And that’s exactly the project Nikki and I are getting an update on. Capturing the gas, selling it to a 3rd party who’ll clean it and pipeline it over to us, sell it back to us and we use it for our vehicles. There’d have to be protections built into any such 3rd party arrangement so we don’t get gouged, and also so we can get credits for our environmental activities. That’s all a part of the discussion.

There are obvious environmental benefits to using RNG. This graph shows the relative CO2 impact of RNG as compared to other fueling sources. And using more RNG eliminates the need for hard rock mining related to extracting copper that’s used to produce electric vehicles. Think Rosemont vs Los Reales. By doing this bio-gas project, Tucson becomes a leader in putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to renewable resourcing.

And the final part of our study session update is to bring a large-scale composting component out to Los Reales. If we’re going into the RNG business, why not add to our own waste pile by encouraging you to separate food waste. All of this – the glass and the food – will involve a new way of collecting your trash.

That means it’ll involve a new way for you to separate it. If the community truly values our recycle program, and truly wants to address the environmental impacts our excess waste production causes, these programs represent one direction we can go and set an example for others to follow.

Keep bringing your bottles – but I look forward to the day when all I’m doing is acting as an intake center and not ‘creating the sand’ we’re using for the secondary markets we’ve identified. And in the midst of all the COVID challenges I wanted to bring you some pieces of good news. While the news is full of pandemic and social justice challenges, you should know that some of us are busy behind those scenes working on projects that will bring lasting benefits to Tucson and the surrounding region. 

I’m grateful to Nikki for joining me in the September updates. This is exciting stuff and deserves our attention. It’s not about taking credit – it's about doing what’s best for Tucson.

City Budget

And speaking of challenging conversations, we just adopted our fiscal year ‘21 budget. A large part of that conversation was consideration of our funding for police. I include the Chamber logo as a way of saying thank you to them for their support of both police, and for the necessary social justice conversation that we’re engaging. This is a portion of a note they sent out in the aftermath of our budget vote:

The M&C (6-1) did agree to fund our police. We also agreed to put $4.5M into our TC3 system (to assist people in finding the proper service provider to meet their personal needs), hiring new social workers to assist where law enforcement is not the necessary ‘touch’ a person needs, bringing on a housing first coordinator to help our HCD Director and staff in getting people into housing, adding Parks Community Service Officers, partnering with non-profits/social service agencies and expanding our housing and community development outreach. 

Public process always includes differing perspectives. I believe with this budget we met the public safety needs of the community, and we made significant strides in terms of getting people the social services they need to improve their lives. My staff and I are grateful to the City Manager and his finance people for working through this particularly difficult budget process. We have challenges ahead, and we’ll meet them. But for now, the City budget is as solid as it can be, considering the extreme fiscal challenges we’ve faced since COVID pulled the rug out from under our economic plans.


Here’s a Be Kind for the Tucson Girls Chorus. My little girl was in the Chorus for several years. They run a great program for young girls, sending them on trips both domestically and overseas. Most importantly though the Chorus teaches them both music skills and engrains in the girls the ability and need to work as a unit, supporting the rest of the group with each individual’s unique input.

This is a COVID-era chorus song that I’ve done at a couple of Porch Fest events. For me it’s a song that reminds me of my mom. For the Tucson Girls Chorus, it’s a song that shows us all that even during these times of distancing and separation, there are still ways to come together with some uplifting activities.

Homeward Bound- TGC Alumnae

Roadrunner Hockey and the Zoo
      

At this time, we’re not sure when the hockey season in the TCC will resume or when we’ll be able to reopen the zoo. But both of those community partners are getting together this Friday morning for an event outside the zoo, in their parking area. They’ll be joined by our Parks and Water folks – all joining together for a youth giveaway event. 

Actually, we’re not giving away youth. But between 7am and 10am in the zoo parking lot, the City is hosting a youth hockey stick giveaway, and between our zoo staff and the water and parks folks, plenty of other fun stuff for the kids will be handed out.

This is a planned drive-through event. Enter the zoo parking lot off from Randolph Way – easiest to come in from 22nd street and avoid the residential cut through. Turn into the zoo entry area and slowly make your way through the properly distanced line of people handing out goodies. 

Coronavirus hasn’t been friendly to our ability to get people back together in the TCC or at the zoo. But both of those groups wanted to reach back out into the community and remind you all that they’re still around and that once the virus is under better control, they’re looking forward to seeing you. For now, join us this Friday and come away with freebies that will come from the various groups who are co-hosting the event.

100 Year Suffrage Anniversary


That graphic is from last year’s Suffrage celebration that was held at the National Archives Museum. The colors being displayed are the ones chosen by event organizers to commemorate the final ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote. That happened on August 26, 1920.

This August 26th we at the Ward 6 office are going to have a little light show outside the Ward office to join the national commemoration. In fact, we might do it early to drive home the point. And you can support a local business and get some of the flood light material and do the same at your home or business. I’ll share that contact information below.

The suffrage slogan is ‘Forward through the darkness; forward into light.’ There is a national Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission (WSCC) that’s busy putting into place events and displays throughout the country. I’m happy to be on board with what they’re doing.

You can reach that commission by going to www.womensvote100.org. At that site you’ll see how you can form your own events, or generally how you can support the movement. It’s less than a month out, so if you want to get involved, you should connect with them soon.
So...the local contact? Give Scott a call at Total Lighting Support. They're a local business that has been hit hard by the COVID business slow down. They have the gel/film colors that are being used by the Commission. Here’s what you’re after:

The stuff comes in sheets that are about 21”x24”, or in larger rolls. The codes for the colors at Scott’s place are R20 and R49. Unless my staff empties his stock, he has the material on hand right now.

Here’s the Total Lighting website:

http://www.totallightingsupport.com/contact

They’re located at 727 S. Park – phone number is 629.0295. 

In the current political climate, and at the front end of the election season, this is a particularly timely event that’s easy to take part in.

COVID Data

This business is sending a message to people who may have had the idea of entering without wearing a mask. I agree with their point. As I’ve noted in multiple newsletters – wear a protective mask. It’s protecting you, and others. It’s a part of the general guidelines being offered to public schools from the State, and it’s going to be a requirement for the UA on-campus return.

I hear from groups representing both public school parents and teachers, and from a University group named the Coalition for Academic Justice. Both groups are unsure about coming back to their respective campus settings while COVID is still uncontrolled throughout the community.

At the public school level, you may have seen media reports of ‘motor marches’ - people in cars driving as a caravan past government offices making the statement that it’s too early to open. That group is asking the Governor to hold off on opening until the end of the 1st Quarter – that's October 8th. As of now, he’s fixed on August 17th. They’re also asking for full funding of distance learning 

The CAJUA has a petition out that has nearly 1,000 people signed onto it. You can see that petition at this link: https://forms.gle/QUZAYq8nTdRuyRUa7. While recognizing the need for a limited number of people to work on campus (researchers, for example), their general point is that everyone who doesn’t have to come back to campus shouldn’t be expected to. And that there should be no threat to their employment status for having made the decision to work remotely. They’ve listed several criteria the UA is called on to address as reopening campus is considered. I pulled this from their open letter to campus:

I believe the Incident Command team that’s being led by Dr. Carmona is indeed working with local health experts in identifying data and doing projections. And the UA has led in the testing area and is planning on requiring testing for everyone coming back to campus. So some of those criteria are being met. As for developing a treatment and prevention method – that could be a year or more away from happening.

I point to these groups simply to share with you that, despite the weekly press conferences from both the State and UA leadership, there’s still a high level of uncertainty out in the community about opening campuses. I know both Ducey and the UA folks are fully aware that there’s not unanimity of opinion on the current game plan. The clock’s ticking, and the conversations between the groups are continuing. We may see more adjustments to both the public school and University plans in the very near future.

COVID Data Review

The Governor indicated during his most recent press briefing that he’s pleased (not satisfied, to be fair, but pleased) with the progress Arizona appears to be making in terms of infection rates. That sentiment is based on a 3 day ‘trend.’ Here’s what we’ve experienced in Pima County on a month to month basis since this began back in March:

If the August report is less than 6,413 then I will join Ducey in sensing that we might be seeing progress on this single metric. But remember, public schools and the UA are about to resume some level of in-person teaching. That will happen in August. As we’ve seen, this virus attacks targets it’s presented with. That’s why getting students and staff to follow all the rules related to masks and large gatherings is so key. And that goes for both on campus and off campus activities.

To put the short term ‘trend’ commentary the Governor shared into context, here’s what happened so far in July. His press conference and most recent Executive Order came on July 23rd. On the 21st (my little girl’s birthday – something like #37) there were 3,500 new cases in the State. That dropped to 1,926 on the 22nd, and then went to 2,335 new cases on the 23rd. That’s his ‘trend.’ You can see that on the 24th we had over 3,300 reported Statewide cases and back up to over 3,700 new cases on the 25th. So while everyone is cheering for this to end, those data don’t convince me we’re on the final lap, much less looking at the finish line up ahead.


And with the UA reopening in mind, this reminder to students and younger staff that nearly ½ of the cases being reported are in the 20-44-year age cohort.

As both President Robbins and Dr. Carmona said, the success of the reopening of campus will be largely dependent on the willingness of everyone involved to follow the rules laid down by the CDC, both while they’re on campus, and while they’re on their own time away from school.

This week I included in the large chart shown above some data related to testing. Earlier in the newsletter I mentioned the great work the County is doing getting tests out into the community. You can see that work reflected in the data – over 2,400 tests given on Saturday. With the 2 new testing sites about to open, expect that number to continue to increase.

The number of tests is important – what's also important is knowing how many people are testing positive. That shows how widespread the virus is in the community. The World Health Organization (WHO) says we should be aiming for a positivity rate of under 5%. Direct from the Arizona Department of Health website, here’s how Arizona is doing:

Since the WHO target is really about 3% it’s fair to say that we’re still 4x above that goal. That’s another data point that would seem to indicate Ducey’s ’trend’ is not to be seen as a time to take our foot off the gas when it comes to following CDC guidance.


And each week I share the raw numbers of cases in the State, and deaths. Here’s this week’s comparison - from 2 weeks ago:

Compared to last week:


Here’s your weekly update on the Statewide COVID numbers. From last week’s newsletter:

 
And here are the numbers from AZDHS as of last weekend:


I give multiple data sets on COVID each week. No one single metric is sufficient to base your thoughts on. That’s why I share the numbers by County, the positivity rate for testing, the death numbers, day-by-day trends, age breakdowns – lots of ways to come to the same conclusion. That is, we’re not through with this. 

And my weekly reminder that you can track the State data every day at www.azdhs.gov.


Our Visit Tucson partners are busy promoting Tucson and Pima County as destinations for travelers. To put it mildly, they’ve got their work cut out for themselves. COVID has virtually stopped most travel, and based on some recent surveying Visit Tucson has done, that’s not going to change significantly in the near term. So, as a sort of ‘we haven’t forgotten your hard work’ nod to the Visit Tucson staff, they’re my Local Tucson item this week.

In their most recent update, they included some of the survey results. Look at how people’s thoughts have changed in the past couple of months. For example, in June only about a third of people expected COVID to get worse in the coming month. Now that’s 60% of people. In May, 58% of people were ‘excited’ about taking a weekend getaway. Now that number has dropped to 41% - and the ‘not excited’ group has grown by 14 percentage points. 

People aren’t planning on travel, and even travel discounts aren’t a lure in this COVID environment. The one positive sign in the survey is that nearly 80% of people responding want others to wear a mask when out in public.

Brent DeRaad and his team are doing a great job keeping our tourism oar in the water. This won’t last forever, and when people start feeling more comfortable about traveling, we’ll be well positioned, largely due to the hard work being done at Visit Tucson. 

Sincerely,

Steve Kozachik
Council Member, Ward 6
ward6@tucsonaz.gov

 

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