Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from May 15-17
The percentage of positive coronavirus tests dipped slightly, some parks and casinos began to reopen and a movie theater franchisee declared bankruptcy.
Additionally, Arizona State President Michael Crow discussed how the university will likely see a “new” normal as ASU leaders create contingency plans for when in-person classes will be allowed to resume.
Here are some stories that headlined the Arizona news cycle over the weekend.
The Arizona health department reported just one new death Sunday morning, bringing the death toll to 680 in the state.
The state’s documented total of COVID-19 cases increased by 306 to 13,937.
Mohave County had the only reported coronavirus death in the state.
Of the tests processed in the state for the virus (PCR testing) and for antibodies (serology testing), 6.1% have come back positive, slightly lower than the previous day.
Several Arizona casinos were partially reopening Friday with new sanitizing protocols and social distancing measures about two months after they closed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Hotel and Casino in Maricopa and Fort McDowell Casino near Fountain Hills were reopening partially Friday morning as Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order expires.
Three casinos the Gila River Indian Community runs in the southern part of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area were set to resume partial operations at midday.
The Ak-Chin Tribal Council earlier approved the reopening of its casino, with slot machine banks arranged to allow for social distancing and limited seating at blackjack tables. Poker, keno and bingo games were not resuming yet.
“We look forward to welcoming back our casino guests,” Robert Livingston, the casino’s general manager, said in a statement.
National forests in Arizona are beginning to open recreation and camping grounds for the season.
Tonto National Forest began reopening recreation sites Friday at the Salt River, and Saguaro, Apache, Canyon and Roosevelt Lakes.
Sites at Bartlett Lake began to reopen on Saturday.
Select recreation areas had previously been shut down to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
With the recreation areas starting to open, recreation passes will be required, which are available at machines at some sites in the forest, participating vendors and virtually by contacting the district office during normal business hours.
The franchisee of the Phoenix area’s three Alamo Drafthouse movie theaters has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing the impact of closures mandated in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our intention is to use this opportunity to reorganize our finances and plan for the road ahead,” Craig Paschich of Paschich Alamo Holdings LLC, which owns the Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert branches of the Texas-based theater chain.
The company’s theaters are known for offering meal and bar service during its movie screenings.
Paschich hopes Alamo Drafthouse can serve Valley film fans again someday.
“We’ve been privileged to have spent the past four years sharing the films we love with our friends in the Phoenix region, and we hope that taking these steps will put us on track to open in the future,” he said.
The “new” normal for students at Arizona State University will probably include the typical coronavirus safeguards – masks, social distancing – if they can return to campus for the fall semester.
“That’s sort of how we’re proceeding – flashing yellow [light],” university President Michael Crow said Friday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show. “Proceed with caution.
“We’re deep in the planning process right now and hope all thing being equal … that it can worked out by the middle of August.”
ASU announced in late April that it intended to resume in-person classes at the next semester, which begins Aug. 20.
“We have to be ready to deal with whatever contingencies might come up,” Crow said.
Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.