/ Modified may 21, 2020 4:41 p.m.

Arizona coronavirus news in brief, May 21

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona: Celebrating students, retailers adapt, and more.

Arizona COVID-19 cumulative counts, July 13

Cases: 123,824 | Deaths: 2,245 | Diagnostic tests: 701,703
The state reported 1,357 more cases and 8 deaths on this day. Choose a Layerlayer and click on county for more.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: ADHS, county health departments, Census 2018 Quick Facts. *Test numbers and rates are for reported PCR tests and do not include antibody tests, unlike previous versions of this map. Cumulative totals are based daily numbers posted by the state. Daily changes don't necessarily reflect the previous 24 hours.

Select regional and national coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic as of Thursday, May 21. For more coverage, visit our resource page.

Poll: Jobs and economy are top concerns for Arizona


Before the COVID-19 outbreak, education and immigration were the top issues for Arizonans, according to polling by OH Predictive Insights. Since March, that has changed.

“Jobs and economy went from like fourth or fifth. It was not in the top three. It is now 2 points away from education and being the top issue,” said Mike Noble with OH Predictive.

Learn more here.

Tucson teachers find new ways to celebrate graduating students


The coronavirus pandemic is changing how families are able to celebrate their graduates. But some Tucson schools are finding new ways to say goodbye.

Teachers and administrators at Carrillo Elementary School gathered Wednesday to say goodbye to fifth grade students heading off to middle school. Because of the coronavirus, this year teachers and staff held up colorful banners and wore masks as families drove by the school in cars.

Learn more here.

Publicly traded Arizona companies receive millions in federal pandemic loans


Seven publicly traded companies in Arizona received loans as part of the federal Paycheck Protection Program which was passed as part of pandemic relief package. The companies were identified in a national database of publicly traded companies that received the loans compiled by the Washington Post.

Two of the companies are in Tucson, the rest are in the metro Phoenix area. Accelerate Diagnostics, which AZPM previously reported on, received $4.7 million. AudioEye received a smaller loan.

The U.S. Treasury Department has told publicly traded companies that if they received more than $2 million in loans and did not return the money they would be audited.

Learn more here.

Arizona unemployment help available on weekends


Unemployment claims continue to rise in Arizona even as the state is beginning to reopen.

Gov. Doug Ducey emphasized at a Wednesday afternoon news conference that help is available for out of work Arizona residents.

To drive that point home, Ducey announced the Department of Economic Security is not getting time off.

“The DES call center will be open to assist on Sunday and Monday, which is Memorial Day, between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.,” Ducey said.

Learn more here.

Tucson retailers adapt to new customer expectations


No longer under a stay-at-home order, nonessential businesses are reopening and attempting to make up for lost time and revenue. But their customers are expecting a very different shopping experience.

Learn more about one Tucson company's changes.

Rocky Point hopes to welcome visitors back in June

Fronteras Desk

Just south of the border, the Sonoran town known as Arizona’s beach is preparing to welcome visitors back to its shores.

Two months ago, the seaside town of Puerto Penasco, or Rocky Point, shut its doors to visitors to ward off an outbreak of the coronavirus, even though that meant sacrificing the busy spring season essential to the city's economy.

So far it seems to have worked, with only three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city.

Now, leaders are taking steps to invite tourists back as early as next month.

Learn more here.

Some recreation sites in Coronado National Forest to reopen


Several recreation sites in the Coronado National Forest in southern Arizona are ready to reopen.

Campfire, smoking and recreational shooting restrictions to prevent human-caused forest fires are in place for Thursday’s scheduled 5 p.m. reopening. Forest officials say campgrounds in the Douglas, Sierra Vista, Safford and Santa Catalina ranger districts are reopening.

Throughout the Memorial Day holiday weekend, forest officials expect large numbers of visitors to dispersed recreation sites and recently reopened developed sites. Visitors are reminded to practice social distancing for the coronavirus pandemic and maintain a distance of 6 feet between individuals.

Grand Canyon schedules another 4-day period for park day use


GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK — Grand Canyon National Park plans another four-day period for limited entry and daytime recreational access to some park areas on the South Rim.

A park statement said the South entrance will be open from 4-10 a.m. on Friday through Monday for day use. Park officials said they’re following guidance from the White House, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health authorities and monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic while phasing in increased access.

Permitted day use will include hiking on inner canyon trails, and officials said limited food and beverage services will be available at several locations. The park closed April 1 because of the outbreak but some parts were reopened on May 15-18.

Embry-Riddle to reopen Florida, Arizona campuses


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will resume face-to-face instruction at residential campuses in Florida and Arizona on June 30.

The private aviation and aerospace university announced Thursday that its board of trustees voted unanimously for the move. Embry-Riddle President P. Barry Butler says flight and housing operations have resumed at the school’s campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona.

New measures at the school will include limiting classroom capacity, optimizing schedules, screening students for risk factors and requiring face coverings for anyone on campus.

Report: Arizona unemployment rate doubled to 12.6% in April


PHOENIX — Arizona’s unemployment rate doubled in April as the travel industry and other major parts of the state’s economy staggered from business shutdowns and other impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.

The state Office of Economic Opportunity on Thursday reported that seasonally adjusted nonfarm unemployment in April rate rose to 12.6%. That's up from 6.1% in March and 4.8% in April 2019. The April report said the state’s economy lost 283,300 jobs, nearly all in the private sector and with all industries but one recording jobs losses.

The leisure and hospitality sector led the downturn with 122,600 fewer jobs.

Learn more here.

Colleges plan fall opening, but campuses won't look the same


Growing numbers of U.S. colleges are pledging to reopen this fall, but they're planning dramatic changes to campus life to keep the coronavirus at bay.

Big lectures will be a thing of the past. Dorms will house a fraction of their usual capacity. Students will face mandatory virus testing. At some smaller schools, students may be barred from leaving campus. Even the most optimistic schools are crafting contingency plans in case an outbreak forces them online, but colleges say the financial and political pressures to reopen are too large to ignore.

Those planning to reopen include Purdue University and Texas A&M University and the University of Notre Dame. The California State University system, in contrast, has said its 23 campuses will stay online this fall.

Read more here.

GOP weighs jobless aid cuts to urge Americans back to work


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell huddled at the White House to consider next steps in coronavirus aid. Republicans want to phase out unemployment benefits to encourage Americans to go back to work.

A reconsideration of jobless aid is fast becoming the focus of debate over the next virus aid package. After the House passed a new sweeping $3 trillion aid package, senators faced mounting pressure to act before leaving town for a weeklong Memorial Day break. The Senate was trying to fast-track an extension of a popular small business lending program. McConnell said new proposals would be considered next month.

Read more here.

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