While other states have closed nonessential businesses, Arizona has yet to do the same.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., pushed for the closure of Arizona’s nonessential businesses on Monday, including clubs, bars, and fitness centers during the coronavirus pandemic. She also urged restaurants only offer meals through takeout and delivery orders rather than dine-in.
While officials in other states have already made these moves, Arizona leadership has yet to do so. Gov. Doug Ducey and other state officials held a press conference Monday afternoon to provide updates on the status of the coronavirus in Arizona, but did not announce any new mandates on limiting crowd sizes.
“Communities that have taken this action early have saved lives and reduced the spread of coronavirus,” Sinema said in a tweet. “Communities that haven’t taken this action early have seen increased virus spread, more hospitalizations, and more deaths.”
Sinema also said Monday she supports the Family First Coronavirus Bill, an emergency aid package that includes funding for food banks and paid leave requirements. The House passed the bill Saturday but the Senate has yet to vote on it.
Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., has criticized the bill as inadequate. But as party leadership continues to negotiate the measure, it’s unclear how she will ultimately vote.
Online Classes Extended
Arizona State University announced Monday it would extend online-only classes through the end of the spring semester. The university first made the move a week ago, with the plan to possibly return to in-person classes before the end of the month. ASU also said Monday it would announce a decision regarding commencement ceremonies soon.
Northern Arizona University announced plans last week to transition to online-only classes. Originally, the change was expected take place once students return from spring break on March 23 and be in effect for at least two weeks. On Monday, the school said it anticipates keeping all classes online for the rest of the semester.
The University of Arizona announced on Sunday that it would be extending online classes through the end of the semester. Grand Canyon University made a similar announcement last week.
Election Still Happening
Despite concern from voters, Arizona officials say the state’s Presidential Preference Election on Tuesday will not be delayed. However, there are some changes to voting procedures.
Maricopa County announced last week it would be closing down 78 of its 229 polling stations, instead making 151 vote-anywhere centers available. Typically, voters outside of Phoenix are required to vote at an assigned polling place in order for their ballot to be counted.
Ducey and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said in a video Monday that measures will be put in place at polling places to keep distance between people, poll workers will be required to wash hands frequently, and staff will be instructed to regularly disinfect voting equipment.
Maricopa County also extended hours voters can drop off ballots on Monday to 9 p.m. The county’s election quarters in downtown Phoenix offers a dropbox available 24 hours per day through Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Last week, County Recorder Adrian Fontes tried to authorize the mailing of ballots to everyone eligible to vote in Tuesday’s election, including those not registered on the state’s Permanent Early Voting List. Fontes claimed the change was a precautionary response to the coronavirus so all voters would be able to drop off their ballot rather than vote in person, but that move was struck down in court Friday.