TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County extended its order for restaurants and other businesses to remain closed until April 10, 2020, with carryout at restaurants remaining open. The order was set to expire on March 31.
The vote was 3-2 along party lines with the three Democrats voting for the extension and the two Republicans against.
The county also took action to begin a program to ask county retail stores, such as Costco, Safeway, Wal Mart and others, to help enforce the call for social distancing.
The stores adopted a policy to open their doors at 6 a.m. for seniors and at-risk populations only to shop. But many stores were seeing long lines before the stores opened and those waiting in line were packed together.
“To test the police, I went to Costco on Saturday morning,” said County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. “We had to cue around the corner about 200 feet.”
Republican Supervisor Ally Miller suggested a delivery service staffed by volunteers to take groceries and other items to the homes of shoppers or some type of curb service.
“The population we should be focusing on are the most at risk,” she said. “We should be keeping them out of the public space as much as we can and I think that would help tremendously.”
The county also received an update on the battle against coronavirus.
There are 45 reported cases in Pima County but the health director, Dr. Bob England, said he doesn’t believe that’s an accurate number because of the lack of testing.
Pima County has been trying since January to secure an adequate number to tests, but so far has been unable to do so.
An order for 5,000 tests never arrived because of the high demand elsewhere.
A University of Arizona lab has been trying to build its own homemade kits to give to the county but hit a snag.
“The truth is, despite federal expectations, testing a painfully scarce,” said Dr. Francisco Garcia, Pima County’s health director and chief medical officer.
England also pointed out that, despite the state sending medical supplies for first responders, doctors and nurses, the county overall is more than 90 percent short.
The county is concerned it puts the front line medical operators in danger.
He also warns that the pandemic is just beginning in Pima County and “it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better,” England said.
“It is widespread,” he said. “You should assume at any event, any shopping, any group someone may be infected.”