Developments related to the pandemic this week ranged from optimistic to dire. State health officials announced that by the end of the month, they expect Arizona will receive more than 380,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with the first shipment arriving next week. It coincided with an alert from the Pima County Health Department that hospitals are at, or are nearing, capacity.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, health care providers have had to make changes to the services they offer. That’s true for El Rio Health, a key provider for Medicaid recipients in Tucson. We discussed the ongoing challenges with CEO Nancy Johnson, including how El Rio will handle vaccine distribution once doses are made available.
Economic hardships brought on by the pandemic have weighed heavily on restaurants. New executive orders from Gov. Doug Ducey attempt to address this by easing regulations on outdoor dining and setting aside more than $1 million to support restaurants. Whether it’s enough is unclear. As Tony Paniagua reports, thousands of restaurants across Arizona have already closed their doors permanently, and some of those still open are calling for more aid.
Arizona’s realty market is poised to wrap 2020 on a high note. Eric Gibbs with the Arizona Association of Realtors discussed current trends and factors that have made the state a seller’s market. That includes the pandemic leading more Americans to make the switch to telework, allowing some to relocate to the Grand Canyon State. Gibbs also said younger home buyers are taking advantage of low interest rates.
Tucson enacted its own mandatory curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus, in addition to a mask mandate in place since summer. Calls from Mayor Regina Romero for the state to take similar steps went unanswered, according to her office. This week we got insight into the city’s authority to regulate residents from former Tucson mayor and current University of Arizona professor Tom Volgy.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers face mounting pressure to agree on a plan that gets more relief to Americans hit hard by the pandemic and to pass a budget that prevents a government shutdown. One of Congress’s newest lawmakers is Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly. With a little more than a week on the job, Lorraine Rivera asked him how he’s adjusting to the role, some of his early votes and his approach to working across the aisle to pass meaningful legislation.