cases Virus Outbreak Arizona
A lone pedestrian crosses a typically busy intersection in downtown Phoenix Wednesday, April 1, 2020 during the first full day of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Gov. Ducey is urging Arizonans to be understanding and reasonable as people and businesses face April 1 due dates for bills such as mortgages, rent, utilities and internet service since the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has slowed the economy. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Matt York)

As the cases of coronavirus continue to rise, and with an expected surge of cases, Gov. Ducey issued a major disaster declaration on Wednesday. Plus more important coronavirus updates for today.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Maricopa County are nearing the 1,000-point mark, and three more virus victims lost their lives in the state. 

According to Thursday’s Arizona Department of Health Services update, 961 Maricopa County residents have now tested positive for coronavirus. Arizonans within the 20 – 44 age range still lead the number of cases at 527, and men continue to lead the number of cases in the state as well 51% – 49%

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. However, for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

In Navajo County, there are now 129 cases. As for the Navajo Nation overall, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently told President Donald Trump that “incredible spikes” in coronavirus cases on the Navajo Nation could “wipe out” some tribal communities. 

“We’re seeing incredible spikes in the Navajo Nation, and this is going to be an issue where we’re going to have to figure that out and think about maybe testing and surveillance opportunities,” Grisham told ABC news.

As the state braces for a surge of coronavirus cases, Gov. Doug Ducey called on President Donald Trump Wednesday to issue a major disaster declaration for the state.

Gov. Doug Ducey said the move is needed to trigger higher federal aid and resources. A declaration would add funding for more mental health care, unemployment and food assistance, the tribal health response, and other state efforts.

Ducey also urged understanding as people and small businesses across the state face due dates for bills such as mortgages, rent, and utilities with the start of a new month.

“The world has changed since March 1,” Ducey tweeted. He said no family, individual, or business should face eviction or lose critical services because of hardships caused by the coronavirus.

“It’s basic decency,” he said.

Grand Canyon Closed Due to Coronavirus, and High School Seniors Approved for Graduation

Thomas Pristow, Coconino County’s chief health officer, cited what he said is a staggering national model to project COVID-19 cases in a renewed request to shut down Grand Canyon National Park. The federal government approved the request Wednesday.

Additionally, an emergency rule approved by the state Board of Education on Tuesday means public high school seniors can receive a diploma or academic credit despite school closures through the end of the school year due to the outbreak, KJZZ reported.

The emergency rule gives local school officials discretion to decide whether a student should receive a diploma or academic credit, but says instruction time lost due to school closure can’t be the sole reason to not issue a diploma or academic credit.

While officials can consider students’ completion of educational opportunities offered during the closures, they can’t, under the rule, deny a diploma or credit to any student whose school didn’t offer distance-learning. That goes for any student who was on track academically before the closure. 

Laid-Off Restaurant Employee Asks Court to Throw Out COVID-19 Prevention Orders

In Flagstaff, a laid-off restaurant employee has asked a court to throw out COVID-19 prevention orders issued by Gov. Ducey and Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans in mid-March that restricted restaurants to takeout and drive-thru services.

Joseph McGhee said he lost his job as a result of the orders. He argued the orders were an unconstitutional overreach that was “based upon nothing more than manifest mass hysteria utterly unsupported by any measure of valid scientific fact.”

McGhee’s lawsuit was filed a week ago, before Gov. Ducey issued a broader stay-at-home order. Restaurants remain restricted to take-out services. Another Flagstaff restaurant worker who filed the lawsuit with McGhee now plans to drop out of the case.

“As a former small business owner, the governor understands the impact these public health decisions have on real people and on the economy,” said a Gov. Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak. “They aren’t made lightly. But his top priority right now is managing the pandemic and saving lives.”

Jessica Drum, spokeswoman for the city of Flagstaff, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Reporting from the Associated Press contributed to this story.