Arizona Events Grind to a Halt Over Coronavirus Fears


By Brandy Rae Ramirez

March 11, 2020

The WHO’s announcement acknowledges the reality of the coronavirus pandemic.

Across the globe, world leaders and health experts are working hard to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Here in Arizona, with nine cases of the virus statewide, the pressure to cut back on large gatherings is increasing.

According to an Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) update Wednesday morning, the state now has two confirmed coronavirus cases and seven presumptive positive cases. On Tuesday, ADHS and the Pima County Health Department (PCHD) announced that a Pima County resident who recently returned from travel in an area with community spread has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Health officials said the individual is not severely ill, and is currently recovering at home in isolation. This individual has also been fully cooperative with public health monitoring.

In response, Pima County Health Director Dr. Bob England said, “We are not recommending closing schools or cancelling events. We know that most people who have gotten COVID-19 have mild symptoms and we ask that you stay home if you are sick. Those most at risk for developing severe complications from COVID-19 are older adults and those with existing chronic health conditions.”

Despite this recommendation, there have been several announcements to cancel or change the format of major upcoming events. Here are some ways venues are handling what the World Health Organization (WHO) is now calling a pandemic.

Democratic Debate to Eliminate Live Audience

On Tuesday, CNN and Univision announced that the format for Sunday’s Democratic Presidential Debate to be held in Phoenix will no longer have a live audience and is limiting media access to reduce the risk of viral spread.

“CNN’s top priority is the safety of our employees and community members,” said CNN officials. 

Instead, officials are encouraging Arizonans and voters across the country to watch the debate on CNN, CNN en Español, CNN International, and Univision at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. MST. The debate stream will be live without requiring log-in to a cable provider and available on’s homepage, across mobile devices via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android, CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Android TV, and Univision’s digital properties. 

Lawmaker Cancels Town Hall Events

Also on Tuesday, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.) canceled two scheduled town hall meetings in Flagstaff and Oro Valley.

“I am hoping to reschedule these town hall meetings and address the concerns of Arizona families directly as soon as large gatherings are no longer deemed a public health concern,” said O’Halleran. “I am deeply sorry for the inconvenience, but my first priority is the health and safety of my constituents.”

Arizona Universities Debate Closures

This week and next week, Arizona university students are on spring break, and officials are still determining on whether or not to close campuses like other universities across the country.

Arizona State University President Michael Crow, in an ASU community email Tuesday, said, “This will continue to be a fluid situation, one that you should monitor during spring break. Efforts are being made at the federal, state and local levels to minimize risk and further spread of the virus, and we are doing likewise at the university.” 

California, however, isn’t waiting to ponder university closures, which now include Cal State Long Beach, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Southern California, and Stanford University. California is one of 16 states that have made that decision.

Pearl Jam Postpones Tour Dates in Phoenix

Pearl Jam fans who hoped to catch the Seattle-based rock band at Gila River Arena in Glendale on April 11 are going to have to wait a little longer to dance clairvoyantly: the band announced it’s postponing part of its tour, including the Phoenix stop.

According to KTAR, the band said the postponement was indefinite.

“As residents of the city of Seattle, we’ve been hit hard and have witnessed firsthand how quickly these disastrous situations can escalate. Our kids’ schools have closed along with universities and businesses,” the band said on its Twitter page.

Thus far in Seattle, 18 people have died from coronavirus and 118 have been diagnosed.

“We have and will always keep the safety and well-being of our supporters as top priority,” the band added.

What Happens Now With WHO Pandemic Designation

Currently, there are more than 1,000 coronavirus, or COVID-19, cases across at least 40 US states and the District of Columbia. At least 31 people have died, including 24 in Washington, three in California, two in Florida, one in New Jersey, and one in South Dakota.

Courier reported the “pandemic” designation is mostly symbolic, and WHO emphasized that what happens next is determined by how countries respond. 

“The bottom line: It is going to get worse,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Wednesday.

The Trump administration has been criticized for its continued failure to provide widely available tests, and inconsistent, misleading, or inaccurate public statements.

In February, President Trump referred to the coronavirus as “the common cold.” With the evolving pandemic reporting, the President continues to attack the media on Twitter for criticism of his response to the virus and claimed Wednesday, “Our team is doing a great job with CoronaVirus!”


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