Today: May 29 , 2020

Info You Need: COVID-19
Featured

25 March 2020  

The only thing that seems to be spreading faster than coronavirus (COVID-19) these days is news and information about the coronavirus.

Here at the eNews studios, every day we get multiple emails, tweets, and texts about the COVID-19 pandemic and responses from local, state and federal agencies, as well as private businesses.

So, this article will become the catchall for almost all the news we receive about COVID-19. It will be updated throughout the day, and then repeated the next day until the crisis dies down a bit. It will be a kind of hodgepodge of information, so you’ll want to check back several times a day. Because it will require a LOT of updating, we will only offer it on the Prescott site, but will provide links from the other sites.

We will try to make sure it stays relevant, and not include unnecessary information. If you have anything you think should be shared, please send an email to editor@enewsaz.com

Private Partners

ACF of Yavapai County commits $110,000 in matching funds in response to COVID-19

PRESCOTT— The Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County has announced that it will match the first $110,000 in gifts to its Yavapai County COVID-19 Community Response Fund, dollar-for-dollar, to assist nonprofit organizations and community groups in our community who are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The community response fund will support the health and well-being of our friends and neighbors most directly affected by the COVID-19 ,” said Carol Chamberlain, Regional Director, ACF of Yavapai County. “While we remain hopeful that preventative measures will minimize the spread of the outbreak in Yavapai County, the time to act is now.”

Gifts to this fund will be restricted to support local nonprofits facing an increased demand for services from clients and communities as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. ACF of Yavapai County is committed to working with other funding partners and community collaborators to move resources quickly and adapt to evolving community needs in order to support gaps not covered by state or federal relief funding. All contributions will be distributed to nonprofit organizations swiftly as needs arise.

To contribute to the Yavapai County COVID-19 Community Response Fund, visit azfoundation.org/covid19 and select the ‘Yavapai County’ tab.

Local nonprofits in need of financial support in response to the spread of COVID-19 are encouraged to visit azfoundation.org/Covid19Grants.

Earlier this month, the Arizona Community Foundation established a statewide fund to support nonprofits as they serve those most vulnerable to the economic and health-related impacts caused by the pandemic. Since its establishment, the fund has doubled in size to over $1 million, thanks in large part to a generous $500,000 gift from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation last week. As the local affiliate of ACF, ACF of Yavapai County is able to tap into these statewide resources, while ensuring local donations support needs within our service area.

For more information, contact Carol Chamberlain at CChamberlain@azfoundation.org or call 928.708.9632.

The Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County is a philanthropic endowment for the enduring benefit of our community. This family of charitable funds is guided by a local Board of Advisors and benefits from cost-efficient, centralized professional services provided by ACF.

Established in 1978, the Arizona Community Foundation is a statewide family of charitable funds supported by thousands of Arizonans. With five regional offices serving communities across Arizona, ACF is among the top 25 community foundations in the nation with more than $960 million in trust and endowment assets, and is certified under the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations. Since inception, ACF and its affiliates have awarded more than $783 million in grants, scholarships, and loans to nonprofit organizations, schools, and government agencies. More information is available at azfoundation.org.


Local Government

Yavapai County Recorder's Office - Voter Registration Information

To keep with best practices of “social distancing”, effective no later than Monday, March 30th the Yavapai County Recorder’s Office will be closed to the public until further notice. There are several methods of registering to vote or updating your voter registration information.

1. For those with a computer and a valid Arizona Driver’s License register or update your voter registration at www.servicearizona.com 2. If you do not have an Arizona Driver’s License go to www.arizona.vote to print a paper form 3. If you would like a voter registration form mailed to you call our office at 928-771-3248 Mail voter registration forms to: Yavapai County Voter Registration Department 1015 Fair St. Room 228 Prescott, AZ 86305 or Use our drive-up drop boxes located at: Yavapai County Administration Building 1015 Fair Street, Prescott OR Yavapai County Cottonwood Annex 10 S. 6th Street, Cottonwood CHINO VALLEY, AZ- Effective today, Wednesday, March 25, 2020 all meetings of the Town Council, Boards, Commissions, and Committees are suspended until further notice due to the guidelines from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Gov. (Doug) Ducey amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Exceptions: Meetings called to address essential items will be condensed and will be noticed and published through the Town’s usual means.

Instructions on participating in such meetings will be provided on the Town’s meeting webpages at www.chinoaz.net/agendacenter and Town bulletin boards located at Town Hall, Post Office, and Library.

Please continue to follow the Town’s web site at www.chinoaz.net and our social media outlets for the most accurate and timely information from the Town.


Dear Prescott Tourism Stakeholders,

As the situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve we would like to provide you with any resources that may become available.

Here are the items:

1.) Share with Arizona's Congressional Delegation what you are seeing at your company or property both on the business side and the impact on workers - encourage them to act now.

2.) Here is some clarification on Governor's executive order about alcohol sales at this time.

 

3.) Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order clarifying businesses and operations deemed "essential" by the state and providing certainty to business owners, employees and families. The order is a proactive and administrative measure to ensure consistent guidance across the state. View here.

4.) Business Resources to go to:

5.) Yesterday this letter went out to the restaurant, bar, and dining establishment stakeholders. We are encouraging all of them to get registered on the AZ TAKEOUT WEEKS directory. Also, as a consumer you can go to this website to view which establishments statewide are providing services during this time. We ask that you continue to keep checking this directory as establishments in our region get registered on this directory. Also, pass this along to any restaurant, bar, or dining room stakeholder that you may have contact with.

6.) New statewide COVID-19 Hotline, which is an entry point to field questions and concerns from Arizona residents about COVID-19. With this hotline launch, Arizonans can get important COVID-19 related information in English and Spanish by simply dialing 2-1-1.

7.) The latest Arizona Office of Tourism.

___________________________________________________________________________

Also, here are a previous list of resources that we have been sending out:

  • Here is a list of Prescott events that have been cancelled due to the COVID-19.
  • PDF with links and some further information.
  • The City of Prescott continues to work closely with officials from Yavapai County Community Health Services, and monitoring information from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to keep up to date on COVID-19 around the State.This information is intended to help citizens stay informed with the latest updates at the Federal, State and County Level. An information page has been created on the City of Prescott website at: http://www.prescott-az.gov/city-management/communications/covid-19/
  • Re-posting of relevant information from Yavapai County and the State on the City of Prescott Facebook page.
  • Arizona Department of Health Services - www.azhealth.gov/COVID-19
  • Arizona Office of Tourism
  • AzLTA
  • STR webinars - (Will be conducted every Thursday (time TBD) regarding the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on the U.S. hotel industry.
  • MPI (Meeting Planners International) - MPI's global devoted page.

____________________________________________________________________________

We will continue to update you as developments occur, but we encourage you to stay connected through social media and local news feeds. As always, don't hesitate to contact our office with any questions or further assistance.

Thank you,

The City of Prescott Tourism Office


Prescott, AZ– March 24, 2020 – The Prescott National Forest began an orderly closure of developed recreation sites on Monday, March 23, to protect public health and safety and to align with state and local measures already in place to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

Although developed campgrounds, restrooms and other developed recreation facilities on the Prescott NF are closed, the vast majority of the forest will still be available to visitors who want to spend time outdoors. Parking at a number of day-use sites will remain available with reduced hours. No services will be provided and no fees will be collected. Currently, recreation opportunities include hiking and biking on trails, dispersed camping and other activities that support social distance and small groups.

The Prescott NF asks members of the public to recreate responsibly by avoiding high-risk activities, such as rock climbing, that increase the chance of injury or distress. Law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19. In addition, visitors can help mitigate resource impacts while recreation sites are closed by bringing home their trash (pack it in, pack it out), and by appropriately managing human waste by burying it at least 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet away from water, trails and recreation sites. Visit the Interactive Visitor Map: https://www.fs.fed.us/ivm/ for more information on available activities.

“We know how much our communities and our visitors value the recreational opportunities the national forests have to offer,” Prescott NF Supervisor Dale Dieter said. “This decision was not made lightly, but we believe people understand the serious risks posed by facilities that draw large numbers of people into close proximity with each other. We appreciate your patience and understanding of our efforts to mitigate those risks to protect public health and safety.”

The developed recreation site closures will remain in effect until June 1, 2020 and will be reevaluated as needed. The Forest Service thanks all visitors and partners for their cooperation. Please report any instances of vandalism to facilities to the local ranger district office.


THE COURTS REMAIN OPEN

On March 23, 2020 Governor Douglas A. Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-12 Prohibiting the Closure of Essential Services (https://azgovernor.gov/executive-orders) which establishes the Arizona Courts as Essential Government Functions. Therefore, to promote the safety and welfare of the public, court staff and our justice partners, the Superior and Justice Courts in Yavapai County remain open to the community.

The Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-48 (http://www.azcourts.gov/ Portals/22/admorder/Orders20/2020-48.pdf?ver=2020-03-18-160342-583), which authorizes all Presiding Superior Court Judges in Arizona to establish, adopt or suspend court rules and orders needed to address the COVID-19 health emergency while continuing to perform the essential court functions necessary to meet the needs of the public. The Courts in Yavapai County continue to work closely with the Yavapai County Community Health Services Department as developments progress with COVID-19. Court proceedings continue to be conducted in a manner that provides for the safety of the participants and court personnel and promotes social distancing as recommended by the CDC.

In order to continue court operations, the Presiding Judge of Yavapai County David L. Mackey issued Administrative Order 2020-06 (http://courts.yavapai.us/Portals/2/ AdminOrders/2020/2020-06.pdf), which establishes procedures that allow the Courts to continue daily operations while following the recommendations of health officials to the extent possible and as permitted by law. The Order provides for citizens appearing telephonically for many types of court hearings, reducing the number of people appearing before a judge when hearings must be in-person, providing for the electronic filing of court paperwork and giving instructions for making court-related payments without going to the courthouses.

Though jury trials and Grand Jury empanelment have been suspended through April 17, 2020, the Courts continue to be open and continue to conduct hearings in criminal cases. Defendants in the custody of the Yavapai County Jail are being liberally granted permission to appear for court proceedings either telephonically or by video.

While the doors remain open in the Superior and Justice Courts, some Municipal and Magistrate Courts located within city buildings have been closed to daily walk-in traffic but can be contacted by phone or email. Citizens seeking to obtain Protective Orders or other emergency relief in the areas impacted by city closures are urged to contact their local Court for further instruction or appear at one of our County Court buildings to request emergency orders.

Resources:

Arizona Supreme Court Administrative Order 2020-48
http://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/22/admorder/Orders20/2020-48.pdf?ver=2020-03-18-160342-583

Yavapai County Superior Court Administrative Order 2020-06
http://courts.yavapai.us/Portals/2/AdminOrders/2020/2020-06.pdf

Arizona Governor Douglas A. Ducey’s Executive Order 2020-12
https://azgovernor.gov/executive-orders


Education

YC Foundation partners with Arizona Gives Day to help fulfill student emergency needs related to COVID-19 Pandemic

The Yavapai College Foundation has partnered with Arizona Gives Day to boost the college’s ability to provide emergency grants to students at risk of faltering in their educational journeys because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Arizona Gives Day, an online fundraising initiative on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, brings together Arizonans from across the state to raise awareness and financial support for nonprofit organizations statewide.

YC’s Student Emergency Fund has helped dozens of students help pay car repairs, childcare, rent and other bills since its inception. The COVID-19 virus has eliminated jobs and created other financial constraints for students, said YC Foundation Executive Director Paul Kirchgraber. “Not surprisingly, the pandemic has placed a great demand on our emergency fund and we’re hoping our partnership with Arizona Gives Day will ensure we can continue to meet our students’ emergency financial needs,” he said.

The YCF will direct all donations received from generous community members via Arizona Gives Day to the student emergency fund. Early giving for Arizona Gives Day is now underway. Donors can find the Yavapai College Foundation easily on the Arizona Gives Day website, www.AZGIVES.ORG/yavapaicollegefoundation. Contributions to AZGIVES.ORG and the YC Student Emergency Fund also can be made on the college’s website here: www.yc.edu/workplacegiving

About Arizona Gives Day
Arizona Gives Day is a 24-hour online fundraiser aimed at bringing together communities across the state, to raise awareness and financial support for a variety of nonprofit organizations throughout Arizona. Arizona Gives Day is hosted by the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits and Arizona Grantmakers and presented by FirstBank. Arizona Gives Day is on April 7, 2020. For more information, visit www.azgives.org.

About the Yavapai College Foundation

The Yavapai College Foundation is a 501(c) nonprofit organization that supports student scholarships, faculty development and programs that enrich both campus and community life.


State Government

Governor Ducey Signs Legislation To Increase Resources For Arizona Hospitals

PHOENIX⁠ — Governor Ducey today signed H. B. 2668, legislation to bring more resources into Arizona’s health care system by increasing Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) provider rates for hospitals, doctors and more. The legislation received broad bipartisan support in both chambers of the Arizona Legislature and will have no impact on Arizona’s general fund.

“Arizona’s medical professionals, our doctors, nurses, administrative staff and more, are stepping up to address COVID-19 and help others — and our state is grateful,” said Governor Ducey. “This legislation provides more resources to them, without costing our general fund one cent. My thanks to President Fann, Speaker Bowers and Committee Chairs Gowan and Cobb, as well as to members of both parties, for prioritizing health care for Arizonans.”

Organizations expressing support for H. B. 2668 include the Arizona Medical Association, the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, Arizona Nurses Association, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Bioindustry Association, and Arizona Association of Health Plans.

In addition to taking steps to support Arizona’s health care professionals, Governor Ducey recently has implemented new measures to ensure health care access for all Arizonans. Today, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order requiring health care insurance companies to expand telemedicine coverage for all services that would normally be covered for an in-person visit. The governor also made a request today to the federal government to open a special enrollment period on the Federal Insurance Marketplace. If granted, the action would allow individuals who have recently lost a job or had their income reduced due to COVID-19 to access health care on the federal marketplace.

Yesterday, AHCCCS received federal approval to implement programmatic changes to help ensure access to health care for kids and vulnerable Arizonans. Arizona was one of the first states to submit a request to waive certain Medicaid and KidsCare (CHIP) program requirements in order to address the COVID-19 outbreak. Yesterday, the governor also notified the Center For Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of his decision to exempt the State of Arizona from a federal regulation requiring Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) to be supervised by a physician. The reform will expand access to care, especially in rural areas, and free up physicians for other needed medical services.


Governor Ducey Requests Special Health Care Enrollment Period

PHOENIX⁠ — Governor Doug Ducey today made a request to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar to open a special enrollment period on the Federal Insurance Marketplace. If granted, the action would allow individuals who have recently lost a job or had their income reduced due to COVID-19 to access health care on the federal marketplace.

“At this time when health insurance is of critical importance and so many people are experiencing a loss of employment, opening a special enrollment period will cut unnecessary red tape and lift a paperwork burden off individuals who are already facing challenges from a sudden and significant change in circumstances,” Governor Ducey said in the letter. “Such a move would provide an important option to families in Arizona and across the country who are struggling, and help give them peace of mind knowing that they have health insurance coverage.”

Governor Ducey took additional action earlier today to expand health care access for Arizonans, including issuing an Executive Order requiring health care insurance companies to expand telemedicine coverage for all services that would normally be covered for an in-person visit. This morning, the Governor also made a request to the federal government to expand nutritional assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

View a PDF of the Governor's letter to HHS HERE.

Read the full letter below.

***

Secretary Azar,

I am writing to you today to strongly encourage you to open a special enrollment period on the Federal Insurance Marketplace which Arizona, like 31 other states, utilizes in place of running a state based exchange. As you are aware, at least 11 states which operate a state based marketplace have opened special enrollment periods, and we would ask that the Federal Insurance Marketplace do the same.

Opening a special enrollment period on the Federal Insurance Marketplace will allow individuals who have lost their employment or have seen their income dramatically reduced as the economic fallout of the Coronavirus outbreak unfolds to have the ability to purchase health insurance with subsidies to make these plans more affordable when their income qualifies. Such a move would provide an important option to families in Arizona and across the country who are struggling and help give them peace of mind to know that they have health insurance coverage.

While individuals who have lost their employment are permitted to purchase a health insurance plan during a short time period after loss of employment, a substantial paperwork burden is placed on the individual to qualify. At this time when health insurance is of critical importance and so many people are experiencing a loss of employment, opening a special enrollment period will cut unnecessary red tape and lift a paperwork burden off individuals who are already facing challenges from a sudden and significant change in circumstances.

To ensure individuals have access to health insurance options at this critical time, we strongly encourage you to open a special enrollment period on the Federal Insurance Marketplace. Should you have any questions, please reach out to my office.

Sincerely,


Douglas A. Ducey
Governor of Arizona


Governor Ducey Issues Order Delaying Evictions For Renters Impacted By COVID-19

PHOENIX⁠ — Governor Ducey today issued an executive order delaying the enforcement of eviction action orders for renters impacted by COVID-19. The order applies to renters who are quarantining due to COVID-19 or are facing economic hardship as a result of the outbreak. It will remain in effect for 120 days.

“Nobody should be forced out of their home because of COVID-19,” said Governor Ducey. “This order is about protecting public health and providing relief to families impacted by this virus — whether through sickness or economic hardship. This is the right thing to do to support Arizona families during their time of need and prevent the spread of COVID-19."

Today’s action aligns with recent federal actions. On March 18, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a suspension of all evictions for HUD-financed properties. On the same day, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days due to the coronavirus national emergency.

The Arizona Department of Housing offers assistance to Arizonans struggling to make mortgage payments. Through the Department’s “Save Our Home AZ” (SOHAZ) program, Arizonans may qualify for:

  • Principal Reduction Assistance,

  • Monthly Mortgage Subsidy Assistance for under and unemployed Arizonans,

  • And Second Lien Elimination Assistance.

View the executive order HERE.

SOHAZ Program questions may be directed to the Arizona Department of Housing, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. by calling (602) 771-1000 or by visiting housing.az.gov/save-our-home.

View information on the SOHAZ program HERE.

The Arizona Department of Housing also operates a toll-free hotline staffed with housing counselors to answer questions about housing in Arizona. To reach a housing counselor toll free, Arizonans can call: 1-877-448-1211.


Governor Ducey And Superintendent Hoffman Announce Childcare For COVID-19 Frontline Workers

PHOENIX⁠ — Today, Governor Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman jointly announced a partnership to launch Arizona Enrichment Centers starting next week to offer childcare for the children of first responders, critical healthcare workers, and essential public sector workers, including child safety workers. This announcement comes as school closures have been extended and other safety measures have been put into place to respond to the spread of COVID-19.

This initiative is made possible thanks to the strong leadership and partnership of several school districts across the state. With more expected to join in the coming days and weeks, several of our school leaders are already offering childcare services to provide much needed assistance to kids and families in their communities, especially critical workforce employees.

All school sites will follow the CDC Guidance for Schools and Childcare Programs, the ADHS Childcare Facility COVID-19 Guidance, as well as guidance issued by local public health departments.

“This initiative will offer critical support for the women and men working on the front lines to respond to COVID-19,” said Governor Ducey. “We will continue to work with our outstanding school leaders all across Arizona to provide more capacity to serve these families.”

“This is just another way that our schools are stepping up to support our students and families right now,” said Superintendent Hoffman. “I’m grateful to the continued leadership from our school leaders, who are going above and beyond to provide critical services like meals, distance learning, social-emotional support and more to our students.”

Key things to know about the Student Enrichment Centers:

  • Children and staff/volunteers will have their temperatures taken upon entering the enrichment center - anyone with a fever will not be admitted.

  • Volunteers/staff at the enrichment centers will wipe down surfaces frequently with disinfectant.

  • Each room will not exceed a safe maximum of students, supported by at least one adult; this will both allow for personalized attention and will meet social distancing needs.

  • Children will be offered a site based on their home address and their parent or caregiver’s eligibility.

  • Districts are working to select schools in close proximity to hospitals to add convenience for health care workers.

  • Centers will be open Monday through Friday. Hours may vary by location.

  • The environment will be safe and supportive, and staff will be prepared to respond to children’s social and emotional needs. All staff will complete background checks.

  • Children will be allowed to bring remote devices so they can work on schoolwork while at the centers.

More information will be forthcoming over the next few days. At this time, if you have pressing questions please email AZEnrichmentCenters@az.gov.


Governor Ducey Requests Changes To Food Assistance Program

The Changes Would Allow The Purchase Of Hot Meals With Benefits And Result In Timelier Approval Of Eligibility

PHOENIX⁠ — To address the economic challenges Arizonans are facing during COVID-19, Governor Doug Ducey wants changes to federal food assistance programs in Arizona that would allow the purchase of hot meals with these benefits and result in timelier approval of eligibility.

The Governor announced today that the state of Arizona has requested permission from the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services to implement program changes to expand access to nutritious foods through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“Arizona is focused on making sure families impacted by COVID-19 have the assistance and resources they need,” said Governor Ducey. “We want these resources to be easy to access and available for all who need them. We’ll continue working with our partners in the government, non-profit and private sectors to come together and support Arizonans in need.”

”These changes will support Arizonans in getting the benefits they need as quickly as possible,” said Interim Department of Economic Security (DES) Director Tom Betlach. “At the same time, we are protecting SNAP applicants, eligible families and staff by easing administrative burdens and minimizing face-to-face contact to the greatest extent possible.”

Under the waiver, DES will expand Nutrition Assistance benefits and increase access to households. The waiver requests the following:

  • Allow DES to approve applications without eligibility interviews, resulting in quicker and more efficient services;

  • Allow all eligible families to purchase prepared and hot meals from grocery stores;

  • Waive the work requirements for eligible students while employment opportunities are more scarce;

  • Provide to eligible families the maximum allotment allowed for up to two months; and

  • Extend certification periods by 90 days, saving clients time and ensuring benefits are provided to clients during the pandemic.

In addition to these requests, DES will be pursuing additional waivers for SNAP as well as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to further expand opportunities for families to access benefits and streamline administrative requirements. More information will be provided once those waiver requests are finalized.

To apply for Nutrition Assistance, Arizonans can visit https://www.healthearizonaplus.gov/ or call (855) 432-7587 Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information about DES services during the pandemic, please visit https://des.az.gov/services/coronavirus.


Governor Ducey Announces Public-Private Partnership To Secure Additional Medical Equipment

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today announced a new partnership between the state of Arizona, the BSTRONG Initiative partnering with the Global Empowerment Mission, and the Verstandig Foundation to secure up to 1 million N-95 masks and other equipment for Arizona health care professionals.

As part of the partnership, the first 250,000 N-95 masks will be donated by the Verstandig Foundation, with anticipated arrival within 10 days.

“Arizona is proactively seeking innovative and resourceful ways to ensure our medical professionals and first responders have the protection they need,” said Governor Ducey. “For doctors, nurses and other personnel providing testing and care, these protective supplies are critical. I am immensely grateful to Bethenny Frankel and the BSTRONG Initiative and Grant Verstandig for stepping up to help in this way and for their continued partnership to protect public health.”

“Across the country, the need for personal protective equipment is significant,” said Bethenny Frankel, founder of the BSTRONG Initiative. “Through our disaster relief networks, we are working with suppliers throughout the nation to help meet demand and get supplies and resources to the people saving lives. We’re proud to work with Grant Verstandig and the State of Arizona to make this partnership possible.”

“This partnership is about breaking down barriers and getting resources to our everyday heroes on the front lines of this war against COVID-19,” said Grant Verstandig. “These unprecedented times require truly innovative solutions, and in that area I applaud Governor Ducey and his team for their truly distinguished leadership in the fight against COVID-19.”

Over the weekend, Governor Ducey announced a new shipment of medical supplies for Arizona health care professionals from the Strategic National Stockpile. The shipment includes more than 440,000 personal protective equipment that will be distributed to county health departments to provide to local hospitals and medical professionals as they address the COVID-19 outbreak and treat patients.

About the BSTRONG Initiative:
The BSTRONG Initiative provides real time emergency assistance to individuals and families in crisis. Since 2017, the initiative has worked with suppliers and charities to raise and distribute millions of dollars and aid to victims of natural disasters, including victims impacted by the Australian bushfires, the Puerto Rican earthquake and Hurricane Dorian. The initiative is on pace to allocate over 1.5 million medical masks to help fight COVID-19, and counting.

Donations can be made to the BSTRONG Initiative at bethenny.com/bstrong.


Governor Ducey Expands Telemedicine Coverage For Arizonans

PHOENIX⁠ — Governor Ducey today issued an Executive Order requiring health care insurance companies to expand telemedicine coverage for all services that would normally be covered for an in-person visit. The order helps ensure that Arizonans who may be sick or under quarantine can access care from their homes and avoid potentially risky trips to a health care provider. It remains in effect until the termination of the declared public health emergency.

“Access to health care is crucial at a time like this,” said Governor Ducey. “This order will ensure that Arizonans can access care without having to leave home while freeing up much needed capacity for our health care providers and hospitals. It’s commonsense and helps ensure our most vulnerable continue to have access to care in a way that protects them and public health.”

Yesterday, Governor Ducey took steps to free up physicians for other needed medical services and ensure access to health care for kids and vulnerable Arizonans receiving care through KidsCare and AHCCCS.

Today’s Executive Order prevents insurers from charging more for a telemedicine visit than they would for an in-person visit. In addition, the order:

  • Requires all Medicaid plans in the State of Arizona to cover all health care services that are covered benefits to be accessible by telemedicine to AHCCCS members, while prohibiting those plans from discounting rates for services provided via telemedicine;

  • Includes all electronic means of delivering telehealth including telephone and video calls;

  • Ensures that a patient’s home is considered an approved location to receive telemedicine services;

  • And prohibits a regulatory board from requiring a medical professional who is authorized to write prescriptions to conduct an in-person examination of a patient prior to the issuance of a prescription.

View the Executive Order HERE.


Arizona Medicaid Program Receives Authority To Implement Program Changes To Address COVID-19

PHOENIX⁠ — Arizona’s Medicaid agency today received federal approval to implement programmatic changes to help ensure access to health care for kids and vulnerable Arizonans.

Arizona was one of the first states to submit a request to waive certain Medicaid and KidsCare (CHIP) program requirements in order to address the COVID-19 outbreak. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved components of Arizona’s request under the 1135 Waiver. Under the waiver, AHCCCS will be able to strengthen the provider workforce, remove barriers to care for AHCCCS members, enhance Medicaid services and supports for vulnerable members, and remove burdensome cost-sharing and other administrative requirements.

“There is no greater priority than the health and safety of Arizonans,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “Working with our federal partners, Arizona is increasing flexibility for health care providers and ensuring access to health care for our state’s most vulnerable populations during this unprecedented national emergency.”

CMS approved the agency’s request to relax some administrative requirements, including but not limited to:

  • Permitting providers located out of state to offer both emergency and non-emergency care to Arizona Medicaid and CHIP enrollees;

  • Streamlining provider enrollment requirements and waiving the provider enrollment fee during the course of the declared emergency period;

  • Suspending revalidation of providers who are located in state or otherwise directly impacted by the disaster event;

  • Waiving the requirement that physicians and other healthcare professionals be licensed in Arizona, to the extent consistent with state law;

  • Suspending pre-admission screening and annual resident review (PASRR) for individuals being considered for admission to a nursing facility;

  • And modifying existing prior authorization requirements for AHCCCS' fee-for-service programs.

The allowances from CMS grant broad authority to Arizona to tailor changes to best serve its citizens. AHCCCS will make decisions about how and when these changes will be implemented in the coming days. The agency awaits direction from CMS regarding additional requested flexibilities.


Governor Ducey Announces $5.3 Million For Meals For Arizona Seniors

PHOENIX⁠ — Governor Doug Ducey today announced that Arizona has received more than $5.3 million in grant funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help Arizona communities provide meals for older adults. The dollars will support both meal delivery programs and programs serving senior centers and are part of a relief package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020.

“These dollars will help Arizona keep our seniors safe and healthy at a critical time,” said Governor Ducey. “I’m grateful to members of both parties who supported this legislation and to the Department of Health and Human Services for making these resources available.”

In total, Arizona will receive $5,356,670 for senior meal programs, with two-thirds of that supporting home meal delivery.

This morning, the Governor also made a request to the federal government to expand nutritional assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Governor Ducey yesterday issued an Executive Orderdelaying the enforcement of eviction action orders for renters impacted by COVID-19.

The Governor also announced yesterday the launch of the Arizona Together initiative to support Arizonans during the COVID-19 outbreak, connecting individuals and businesses to resources, raising money for community organizations and providing information on volunteer opportunities. A website, ArizonaTogether.org, serves as the centralized location for Arizonans to find help or provide support.


Governor Ducey Takes Step To Free Up More Physicians To Address COVID-19

Reform Aims To Expand Access To Care, Especially In Rural Areas

PHOENIX⁠ — Governor Ducey yesterday notified the Center For Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of his decision to exempt the State of Arizona from a federal regulation requiring Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) to be supervised by a physician. The reform will expand access to care, especially in rural areas, and free up physicians for other needed medical services.

“Arizona’s hospitals and medical professionals need all the help and resources they can get right now,” said Governor Ducey. “I am confident that this exemption will enhance access to high quality care, provide additional options to our rural hospitals, and is in the best interest of the citizens of Arizona.”

The Governor’s Office consulted with the Executive Directors of both the Arizona Nursing Board and the Arizona Medical Board prior to notifying CMS of today’s exemption. To date, 17 states have taken similar actions.

See a PDF of the letter HERE.


Governor Ducey Announces Arizona Together Initiative, Linking Arizonans To Resources During COVID-19 Outbreak

PHOENIX⁠ — Governor Doug Ducey today launched the Arizona Together initiative to support Arizonans during the COVID-19 outbreak, connecting individuals and businesses to resources, raising money for community organizations and providing information on volunteer opportunities. A website, ArizonaTogether.org, serves as the centralized location for Arizonans to find help or provide support.

“As we work to combat the spread of COVID-19, access to resources that can help support families and businesses in this time of need is critical,” said Governor Ducey. “We’re calling on Arizonans to be informed, get engaged, and support organizations doing important work to keep our communities safe and healthy. Arizona will get through this together.”

The AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund, established by Governor Ducey as part of the initiative, will provide financial support to organizations working to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in Arizona. Initially, the fund will focus on the following immediate needs:

  • Funding of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline medical personnel.

  • Supporting non-profit organizations that help vulnerable Arizonans through food banks, homeless shelters, domestic violence facilities and other services.

  • Expanding technology access for low-income students to help them transition to online learning.

Michael J. Bidwill, Chairman and President of the Arizona Cardinals, has stepped forward to provide a generous founding contribution to the fund of $1 million.

“Like so many in our community, this unprecedented crisis has us asking what we can do to help and what might have the greatest impact,” said Cardinals Chairman and President Michael Bidwill. “We are grateful for the creation of this relief fund, are proud to support its critically important mission and hope that others throughout the community can join this effort in whatever way that they are able. As a team, we will continue to work on additional ways to make a difference and know that as a community we will get through this challenging time together.”

The Arizona Together initiative brings together the growing list of resources and information being offered by state agencies and community partners. Individuals who register to volunteer through the ArizonaTogether.org website will be connected with organizations across the state seeking community assistance.

“We continue to see a need for donations and volunteers to help Arizona beat this pandemic,” said Dr. Cara Christ, Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “Our food banks, hospitals, youth centers, and nonprofits serving the community all need support. We’re calling on Arizonans to come together and help where they can, while continuing to follow safe practices and the guidance of public health.”

Please visit ArizonaTogether.org to learn more, donate and find volunteer opportunities.


National and World Information

A letter to Governor Doug Ducey from US Senator Kyrsten Sinema


McSally Introduces Bill to Withhold Pay Until Senate Passes COVID-19 Relief Package

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) introduced legislation today to withhold pay from all U.S. Senators until a COVID-19 relief and support package is passed.

“If Americans aren’t getting paid, then neither should the Senators failing to support the workers and families who need help making ends meet,” said McSally. “Today, I introduced legislation to have Senators’ pay withheld until relief is passed. It is despicable that millions of Americans are without a paycheck in this time of crisis, while the Senate wastes precious time playing political games. The Senate must pass this relief package now in order to get cash straight to the people.”

Bill text of No COVID-19 Relief, No Pay is available HERE.

On March 23, McSally announced her intention to introduce a bill to withhold Senators’ pay until Americans are put before politics.


Sinema Urges White House to Expedite Coronavirus Vaccines and Treatments and Increase Access to Medical Supplies

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema joined a bipartisan group of Senators urging the White House to set up two specialized task forces to improve access to medical supplies and ensure that treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 are developed as efficiently as possible.

“Addressing the spread of coronavirus requires that we bring together agencies, non-profits, and researchers to increase medical supplies for frontline responders and expedite the development of treatments,” said Sinema.

“Given the unprecedented nature of this disease and its massive damage to the wellbeing of Americans, our economy, and the rest of the global community, we urge you to establish two temporary and specialized task forces. One to expedite and coordinate the development of COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments, and another to coordinate medical supply shortages and the development of innovative solutions to address these shortages,” the Senators wrote.

Sinema has added a comprehensive resource page to her website, www.sinema.senate.gov/corona, for Arizonans looking for the latest information on coronavirus.

Click HERE to read the full text of Sinema’s letter.

Click HERE for Spanish version of release.


The United States was ranked the best-prepared country in the world to handle a pandemic in late 2019 by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHCHS)… Read More about the Global Health Security Index


Medicare and Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

By Seema Verma

Administrator, U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Since older Americans are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19), I wanted to let you know the steps we’re taking to help our Medicare beneficiaries cope with the pandemic.

We’re warning Medicare beneficiaries that scammers may try to use this emergency to steal their Medicare number, banking information, or other personal data.

Unfortunately, scammers come out of the woodwork during times of uncertainty and change. So make sure you give your Medicare number only to your doctor, pharmacist, hospital, health insurer, or other trusted healthcare provider.

If someone calls you on the phone, says they’re from Medicare, and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information – just hang up.

Remember: Medicare never calls its beneficiaries to ask for or to “verify” Medicare numbers.

My agency finished removing Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards last year in order to reduce fraud and protect Medicare beneficiaries from identity theft. Even with this change, you should guard your Medicare card. Treat it like a credit card. Be sure to check your Medicare claim summaries for errors and questionable bills.

If you suspect Medicare fraud, please report it by calling Medicare’s toll-free customer service center at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or by visiting www.medicare.gov/fraud.

I also want to inform you what Medicare covers with regard to coronavirus.

If your doctor orders a COVID-19 test for you, Medicare covers all of the costs. You should not have any cost-sharing.

Medicare also covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes extra days in the hospital for in-patients who were on the verge of being discharged, but were diagnosed with COVID-19 and had to stay longer under quarantine.

There's no vaccine for COVID-19 at this time. However, if one becomes available, Medicare will cover it.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have the same benefits as people with Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans are now required to have the same cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests as Original Medicare: zero.

Medicare also recently expanded its coverage of telehealth services to enable beneficiaries across the country to receive a wider range of healthcare services from doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility.

These changes allow beneficiaries to communicate with their doctors without having to physically go to a healthcare facility, thus cutting their risk of acquiring or spreading the virus. And frontline clinicians will be better able to stay safe themselves while treating people with Medicare.

Doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers can deliver telehealth services via phone and video chat. Medicare beneficiaries can receive telehealth services in their home as well as in any healthcare facility, including a physician’s office, hospital, nursing home, or rural health clinic.

Telehealth services include routine office visits, mental health counseling, and preventive health screenings for cancer and other illnesses.

By helping healthcare institutions across the nation offer medical services remotely, telehealth helps free up hospital emergency departments and doctors’ offices to deal with the most urgent COVID-19 cases. For example, you can talk with a doctor about your diabetes management or prescription refill without having to go to his or her office.

During this emergency, Medicare will pay for telehealth services at the same rates as in-person services, giving doctors and other clinicians an incentive to use this alternative and reserve their offices to treat those who truly require in-person care.

We know many Medicare beneficiaries are concerned about the spread of coronavirus and the threat it poses to their well-being. That’s why we’ve taken these rapid steps to ensure that the Medicare program continues to protect our beneficiaries while maintaining trusted access to care in these uncertain times.


STAKEHOLDER ANNOUNCEMENT: USDA Implements Immediate Measures to Help Rural Residents, Businesses and Communities Affected by COVID-19

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2020 – USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America.

Read the full announcement to learn more about the opportunities USDA Rural Development is implementing to provide immediate relief to our customers, partners, and stakeholders.

The IRS posted today Filing and Payment Deadline Questions and Answers. These Q&As address the federal filing and payment extension to July 15 due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. These Q&As currently include information on the additional extension to Oct. 15, first quarter estimated tax payments, IRAs and HSAs.

We also have a new IRS.gov page that provides updates on mission-critical functions of the IRS. This page provides an overview of changes related to IRS operations and guidance for taxpayers during this period.

We will continue to monitor issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak, and post updates on our special coronavirus page at IRS.gov/coronavirus.


Representative Ruben Gallego (Dem. CD7-AZ) on President Trump

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W3LdFyW6Q8&feature=emb_logo

K2_TAGGED
Lynne LaMaster

Lynne LaMaster is the Founder of the eNewsAZ Network of websites. She will be leaving for new adventures on May 15, 2020.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/eNewsAZ/