coronavirus Courier Newsroom Illustration/Tania Lili

Governments and organizations continue to announce changes as they respond to the global coronavirus pandemic. 

Update

The Ostrich Festival in Chandler, which was scheduled to open Friday at 2 p.m., has now been postponed. Organizers made the announcement on Twitter one minute before doors were supposed to open. 

Despite one of the musical headliners (98 Degrees) dropping out Thursday night, organizers still said the event would forge on while taking extra health precautions. 

According to the tweet, a new date for the festival has not been set.

Original Story

The number of coronavirus cases in Arizona held steady Friday at nine. The state has now tested 143 people, with 94 coming back negative and 40 pending. 

Here’s how leaders in the state continue to respond: 

Cities Make Changes

Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona’s two largest cities, made announcements Thursday on how they are working to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Both cities have decided to suspend all water shutoffs due to nonpayment. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said this is so residents still have access to water for “sanitation purposes.” Access to water is important for protecting against the virus – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines recommend frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. 

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero also announced even more sweeping measures. She said the city is recommending any gatherings of 50 or more people be postponed, and the city will not issue special permits for any events that large at this time. 

Romero said all city meetings and out-of-city travel have been suspended, and she and her staff are working to identify options for working from home. City employees who have to handle cash payments at work will be given gloves for protection, and Romero said it is possible that cash payments may not be accepted later down the road. 

And for employees who do fall ill, Romero said, they will be given 13 days of paid leave. Employees can also use leave to care for sick family members. 

Ostrich Festival Goes On

While events in Arizona are being canceled left and right, the Ostrich Festival in Chandler will go on this weekend.

However, organizers are scrambling to replace one of the event’s biggest attractions – ‘90s boy band 98 Degrees on Thursday night canceled their appearance. Blues Traveler and The Pointer Sisters remain scheduled. 

Organizers said they are taking extra precautions to keep attendees safe at the festival. Those include placing hand-washing and sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas, disinfecting rides throughout the day, and posting signs about best practices for reducing the spread of germs.

The festival at Tumbleweed Park runs Friday through Sunday and offers food, carnival rides, an ostrich exhibit, animal races, and more. 

Comcast Offering Free Internet

Comcast announced Thursday it will offer two months of free internet to low-income households in response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

To be eligible, a household must qualify for a public assistance program, not have debt to the company that is less than a year old, live in an area where Comcast is available, and not have subscribed to Comcast within the last 90 days.  

Anyone who already uses the company’s low-income service – $9.95 per month for an Internet speed of 15 megabits per second (mbps) – will still have to pay the fee but will be bumped up to 25 mbps. 

New customers will receive a self-install kit with no shipping fee. Once the two months are up, households can either cancel the service or continue it for the regular price.