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Answering FAQs on Arizona’s COVID-19 crisis: What you need to know

(Getty Images/Misha Friedman)

PHOENIX — As coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise in Arizona, state responses, policies and guidelines give rise to new questions everyday.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the coronavirus outbreak in Arizona:

Q: How many Arizona residents have contracted COVID-19? How many have died?

A: The Arizona Department of Health Services has been updating state and county coronavirus statistics every morning on its web page.

The latest information, news and updates on coronavirus in Arizona can be found here.

Q: Can I be tested for COVID-19?

A: Not everyone who wants to be tested for coronavirus will qualify.

As the outbreak continues to spread throughout Arizona, medical facilities and their staffs have to prioritize resources in combating the infectious disease.

Gov. Doug Ducey has said that testing is being prioritized for those most at risk, especially those 65 and older.

The AZDHS web page encourages residents suffering potential COVID-19 symptoms — fever, cough, breathing complications or contact with an individual who has contracted the virus — to call their primary care physician, who will decide if testing is necessary.

Q: How does Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order change my day-to-day life?

A:  The governor signed a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” executive order on March 30 in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The order took effect Tuesday at 5 p.m. and mandates that residents remain in their homes except when acquiring essential needs.

Ducey described the order as taking a “uniquely Arizona approach” during a press conference.

“It’s a whole, holistic approach that prioritizes all of public health, placing a focus on staying home to slow the spread, staying healthy and active, and staying connected to provide the much needed support we can provide one another in these unprecedented times.”

Q: With the stay-at-home order now in place, can I still walk my dog or go to the park?

A: During a press conference, Ducey encouraged Arizonans to enjoy the outdoors while also employing safe social distancing practices.

“We do not want people to feel trapped or isolated in their homes,” he said.

“The weather is beautiful right now. Find ways to get out and enjoy it — with physical distancing.”

Q: What “essential” businesses are covered in the governor’s executive order?

A: On March 23, Ducey signed an executive order detailing what the state considers to be essential services during the coronavirus outbreak.

The order includes various businesses and government operations in the fields of health care, infrastructure and human services.

Some critics — including Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego — have argued the governor’s definition of “essential” is too lenient.

Ducey on Thursday shored up the list, excluding businesses like salons and barbers.

Q: Can local governments issue orders more restrictive than the state’s?

A: No. Ducey’s directive says “no county, city or town may make or issue an order, rule or regulation that conflicts with the policy, directives or intent of this Executive Order.”

Q: What happens if I violate the stay-at-home order?

A: The order says “a person shall be notified and given an opportunity to comply” before any enforcement action is taken.

Q: Will my utilities be shut off if I can’t afford my bills?

A: Ducey’s office announced in a news release on Thursday that Arizona’s largest public utility companies — including Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project, Tucson Electric Power and six electric cooperatives — will not assess late fees or interest accrued to bills during the coronavirus outbreak.

The companies also agreed to implement flexible payment options or allow customers to change plans if necessary.

Q: Are there any grocery stores offering special hours for senior citizens?

A: Senior citizens around metro Phoenix are able to take advantage of exclusive shopping hours at a variety of chain retailers, according to a list compiled by Maricopa County.

Among stores that have allocated morning hours specifically for senior citizens include: Walmart, Whole Foods, Safeway, Target, Trader Joe’s and Fry’s, among many others.

Q: Where can Arizona residents file for unemployment?

A: Applications may be submitted online.

On March 25, Ducey announced a variety of executive action aimed at limiting economic suffering caused by the pandemic.

The new measures focus on changes to food assistance programs, expanding telemedicine coverage and  providing meals to senior citizens.

What has been done for individuals who have lost health care coverage due to the COVID-19 outbreak?

A: Ducey submitted a request to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar asking that Arizonans impacted by the coronavirus outbreak be allowed a special enrollment period into the federal insurance marketplace.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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