Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and Councilmember Virginia Korte have issued responses to citizens calling for the city to implement a COVID-19 “stay at home” order, as national social distancing regulations are extended.
Maricopa County officials report a total of 689 cases of COVID-19 to date, with five deaths reported, March 30 numbers show. Statewide cases exceeds 1,100, with 20 total deaths due to the virus.
On March 29, President Donald Trump called for a national extension of social distancing guidelines for another 30 days --- ordering the procedure to take place through April 30.
This was followed by Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman on March 30 announcing school closures through the end of the school year.
According to published news reports, Mr. Trump acknowledged the spread of the virus has not slowed yet, stating that modeling shows the peak of the death rate will likely hit in two weeks.
Mr. Trump was quoted as stating he expects the country will be on its way to recovery by June 1.
As Scottsdale residents have followed social distancing practices and Gov. Ducey called for the closure of all non-essential businesses, people are looking to city officials to take further steps to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Until Lane or Ducey step up to the plate and do what’s right and order a shutdown, it is still Day 1 of this outbreak,” Scottsdale resident Melissa Rein Lively said in part in an online comment at YourValley.net. “Everyone is pointing fingers saying who should do this. Is it cities? Is it states? Is it the federal government? Ultimately, it DOES NOT MATTER who does it first. Whoever does it SOONEST will be the hero. Ducey. Lane. Trump. Somebody. Anybody. Everybody.”
Ms. Korte also acknowledged residents’ concerns in her latest emailed blast on March 29, stating, “Many Scottsdale citizens are asking why we don’t have a ‘Stay at Home’ rule during this time of the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
Both Ms. Korte and Mr. Lane are steadfast in the assertion they are following Gov. Ducey’s lead.
The mayor, in a 2-minute, selfie-video from his desk posted to social media on March 26, said he just wanted to talk to the residents for a minute.
“The governor has established the fact that if a decision is to be made on sheltering-in-place it’s his decision, and his decision alone,” Mr. Lane said. “He’s also made the point --- and this is a matter of consistency, and a process we need to move forward with --- he’s established the fact that he wants the recognition of essential services, along with critical infrastructure issues. They’re wide spread.”
Mr. Lane said 85% of critical infrastructure is held in the private sector, so it is “a matter of us managing in a free society to work in a cooperative way to make sure we ensure and protect those essential functions as well as anything else and our essential services here.”
Mr. Lane said there is a number of things to do, including cleaning, washing hands, working at home and avoiding physical contact.
“We can get outdoors but we have another element that even outdoors we want to make sure we’re looking at social distancing. That’s staying a few feet apart from one another at all times,” he said. “This type of emergency we need to be proactive.”
Mr. Lane ended his video in a supportive, positive manner stating that the city will come out of this pandemic together.
“We’ll get this done, in a Scottsdale way. Stay healthy, take care of yourself, I’ll be in touch again,” Mr. Lane said, signing off.
Ms. Korte provided a bit more detail in her email on Gov. Ducey’s March 23 executive order prohibiting cities from enacting any regulation that restricts any person from restricting duties deemed an essential function.
“The executive order goes on to include ‘Any order restricting persons from leaving their home...’” Ms. Korte stated.
“My personal suggestion and what I have shared with my children is stay at home. The City of Scottsdale is doing its best to protect the health and well-being of its citizens. While the city cannot mandate citizens to stay at home, I believe common sense should prevail and we should stay at home.”
Arizona COVID-19 numbers began to soar from 43 cases on March 8, to 408 cases one week later, on March 15.
Last week, the city closed all but three city facilities.
Gov. Ducey and Ms. Hoffman announced a joint statement on the public and charter school closure orders.
“In alignment with yesterday’s updated federal guidance, today we are announcing the extension of school closures through the remainder of the school year. Today’s announcement is intended to give parents and educators as much certainty as possible so they can plan and make decisions,” the two state officials stated in-part.
“While this isn’t the outcome any of us wanted, we are grateful for the partnership of schools around the state, who have stepped up to offer virtual and take-home learning opportunities for our students. These efforts are crucial, and we recognize that schools are making every effort possible to continue providing instruction during closures.”
The educational order applies to Arizona public schools, both district and charter. Private schools are required to remain closed in alignment with federal guidance recommending closures through at least April 30.”