46 Arizona corrections employees test positive for virus
PHOENIX (AP) — Forty-six state corrections employees in Arizona have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Friday evening after refusing for weeks to specify how many workers had contracted the virus.
The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry said 24 employees who tested positive have since recovered. The agency didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether any employees had died as a result of COVID-19.
Earlier this week, corrections officials declined to say whether any inmates who tested positive for the virus had died, even though medical examiners and a lawyer said three inmates had died. On Friday evening, corrections officials said there have been four potential COVID-19 deaths among prisoners.
Forty-five prisoners have tested positive for the virus as of Friday evening. The Department of Corrections had previously said 50 prisoners had tested positive and didn’t immediately respond to a request to explain why the total had been adjusted.
In Yavapai County, officials said a part-time employee at the Camp Verde Detention Center who tested positive for the coronavirus died Monday after spending several days at a hospital. Another Yavapai County jail employee also tested positive for the virus and is in quarantine, sheriff’s officials said Friday evening.
And a man arrested on Sunday became the first inmate in Maricopa County’s jails to test positive for the virus. The inmate was kept in individual cells until his release from jail Wednesday.
Across Arizona, officials reported an additional 10 deaths and 314 confirmed infections on Friday, for a total of 330 deaths and nearly 8,000 cases.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. It can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death, for some people, especially older adults and those with existing health issues.
In Wickenburg, business owners decided to reopen in defiance of Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order. Those who disregard it could face fines, though it wasn’t immediately clear if any businesses were cited.
Warnings from police and health officials didn’t stop Debbie Thompson from serving food Friday inside her Horseshoe Cafe.
“They have just told me that I have to shut down. I am not. They will have to arrest me,” Thompson declared to the cheers and applause from several seated customers.
Though she was not arrested, Thompson later received a call from the state Department of Health Services telling her to stop violating order.
Thompson, 65, said her restaurant can’t survive on only carry-out orders until the restrictions expire in two weeks. The Horseshoe Cafe normally makes $700 to $900 a day. In the last six weeks, it has been lucky to make $100 a day, she said.
Ducey has extended his stay-at-home order, which applies to dine-in restaurants, through May 15 but said he will allow retailers big and small to reopen with precautions.
State officials published guidance Friday for retailers that reopen, including maintaining social distancing, limiting the number of people allowed in stores and widespread cleaning. They still recommend delivery or curbside options — even if customers are allowed inside — closing fitting rooms at clothing stores, screening employees for symptoms and offering face masks to workers and customers.
At Trader J’s, a Southwest-themed gift shop in Wickenburg, JoAnn Zimpher had masks and hand sanitizer ready for customers but wasn’t following all the state’s guidelines. Her son owns the shop, which was allowed to reopen, unlike Thompson’s restaurant.
Zimpher said if businesses disregard Ducey’s order, that doesn’t mean their owners have a disregard for life.
“We’ve never asked the people that want to stay isolated to come out,” she said. “The people we have encountered are thanking us for opening. They said, ‘It’s really good you take a stand.’ ”
The Republican governor let retailers open because he said there are signs the spread of the virus has slowed in Arizona. However, there’s no clear indication that deaths and new cases are trending down. ___
Tang reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper and Jacques Billeaud contributed to this report.