Pima County leaders drop some state rules involving virus
TUCSON, Ariz. - The Pima County Board of Supervisors has voted to amend some of its health code regulations intended to protect employees and customers as businesses begin to reopen across Arizona.
The original regulations included occupancy limitations, protective-equipment requirements, social-distancing protocols, daily temperature checks and public displays of signage and cleaning logs at restaurants, gyms, pools and other facilities.
However, the Arizona Restaurant Association, Arizona Craft Brewers Guild and other business owners and community members raised concerns about the regulations, arguing they were unnecessary and burdensome.
The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Thursday to drop several requirements such as making restaurants have a call-ahead reservation system and having workers try to determine if a customer is ill with COVID-19.
Some have argued the amendments are violating Republican Gov. Doug Ducey's executive order prohibiting counties, cities and towns from making rules inconsistent with those implemented by the governor.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is investigating all regulations put in place by Pima County to determine if they are direct violation of Ducey’s order.
“Until we get a determination from the attorney general, all of this means nothing,” Supervisor Steve Christy said. “It is imperative that this board cease and desist trying to come up with its own regulations until that determination is made.”
In other coronavirus developments in Arizona:
- State health officials reported an additional 293 COVID-19 cases and 12 additional deaths, raising the state’s totals as of Friday to at least 15,608 cases and 775 deaths.
- A federal agency announced it had distributed $41.3 million to skilled nursing facilities in Arizona to help combat the pandemic.
- The funding will be used to support nursing homes facing significant expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.
- For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.
- A judge is considering a request to appoint an expert to examine whether detainees at the Central Arizona Florence Correctional Complex in Florence are adequately protected from the spread of the coronavirus.
Lawyers who made the request argued at a hearing Friday that detainees should be released if an expert’s recommendations on preventing the virus’ spread cannot be achieved without lowering the facility’s inmate population.
Lawyers representing government officials and a private prison operator said extensive measures have been taken to protect detainees through maintaining social distancing, enhancing sanitation procedures and educating staff and detainees.
U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa said she would make a ruling in the future.
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