COVID-19: Questions and Answers

News Release

March 29, 2020

What’s allowed under Arizona’s “Stay home, Stay healthy, Stay connected” order? 

“Stay home, Stay healthy, Stay connected” – that’s what the state is asking of fellow Arizonans in the continued effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The latest Executive Order issued 3/30/2020, by Governor Doug Ducey follows new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and comes at the recommendation of public health officials who are tracking data specific to Arizona. The Governor’s order promotes increased physical distancing, while encouraging social connectedness among citizens. It took effect on March 31, 2020.

Under the Executive Order, Arizonans shall limit their time away from their place of residence or property, except:

  • To conduct or participate in essential activities;
  • For employment, to volunteer or participate in essential functions; 
  • To utilize any services or products provided by essential business services;
  • For employment, if, as a sole proprietor or family owned business, work is conducted in a separate office space from your home and the business is not open to serve the public.

On March 23, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order clarifying businesses and operations deemed “essential” and providing certainty to business owners, employees and families.

Under this order, Arizonans are also encouraged to improve social connectedness by: 

  • Maintaining ongoing connections and communication with current social supports and structures such as family, friends, neighbors and other social groups;
  • Educating fellow Arizonans on the negative health impacts of social isolation;
  • And developing habits and activities that increase resilience, such as physical activity, virtual social gatherings, assisting neighbors, implementing or participating in connection campaigns for at risk populations, and participating in volunteer activities.

Under this policy, essential activities include:

  • Obtaining necessary supplies and services for family, household members and pets, such as groceries, food and supplies for household consumption and use, supplies and equipment needed to work from home, assignments for completion of distance learning and products necessary to maintain safety, sanitation and essential maintenance of the home, residence. 
  • Engaging in activities essential for health and safety, including things such as seeking medical, behavioral health or emergency services and obtaining medical supplies or medication. 
  • Caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household or residence, which includes but is not limited to transportation for essential health and safety activities and to obtain necessary supplies and services for the other household. 
  • Engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running, biking or golfing, but only if appropriate physical distancing practices are used.
  • Attending work in or conducting essential services which includes but is not limited to transporting children to child care services for attending work in an essential service.
  • Engaging in constitutionally protected activities such as speech and religion, the democratic process to include voting, any legal or court process provided that such is conducted in a manner that provides appropriate physical distancing to the extent feasible.

Is my business considered essential?  

A full list of functions deemed essential can be found HERE.

Please note that those essential businesses choosing to stay open during this time must follow the U.S. Department of Labor, Arizona Department of Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for sanitation and practice social distancing to the extent possible. 

Where do I report a violation? 

Arizonans are acting responsibly through this public health emergency. Our streets and highways are empty. Spring training and sporting events have been canceled. The opportunity to congregate in groups has largely, if not entirely, been eliminated.

The Governor expects individuals to follow the order to keep not just themselves and their families healthy, but to help keep the most vulnerable members of our community safe as well. As such, the Governor has directed that enforcement of the order should begin with educating citizens about what it means and giving them a chance to comply before any enforcement action is taken. 

In the event that education and warnings do not result in compliance from members of the community, law enforcement may charge a person with a misdemeanor for failing to comply under A.R.S. 26-317. However, it is expected that people will behave responsibly, and we've been pleased to see that be the case. If you feel that you must report a concern to law enforcement, we encourage you to call your local police department’s non-emergency line. 

When law enforcement gets such calls, generally they will make an inquiry and provide education on the provisions of the Executive Order and determine if action is necessary.

I work for an essential business. Do I still need to come in? 

First, you should contact your employer. Many businesses that are deemed essential have implemented telework options where possible. However, since the operation of some essential businesses requires personal contact, your employer can discuss any concerns you have with ensuring that you stay safe as you do your job and any other options that may be available. 

Will grocery stores or pharmacies be closed? 

No. These are essential functions and will remain operational. It is encouraged that Arizonans get enough groceries for one week of food and avoid over-buying. 

How can I get my questions asked about school closures? 

Governor Doug Ducey has signed legislation to support schools during closures, provide clarity and flexibility on statewide testing requirements and school letter grades, give direction on make-up days, require learning opportunities for students to continue, and ensure teachers and staff see no disruption in pay as a result of COVID-19. 

Under this legislation, public schools in the state are not required to extend the number of school days or add additional instructional hours to make up for the days missed after the statewide closure ends. The testing window for statewide assessments is also extended through May 31, 2020. All school employees—including hourly employees—will continue to be paid during the closures.

Additionally, beginning on Monday, March 30, 2020, schools will offer students general education through alternative formats for the duration of the closure. This allows public school employees who are able to perform their tasks outside of school to resume work remotely on March 30. If an employee is unable to perform their work remotely, they will be assigned other tasks.

For more information, vist azed.gov.

As a teacher, am I still expected to come to school? 

Check with the school where you are employed. Local school district leaders are being asked to factor current CDC and AZDHS guidelines as they engage their staff in ways that best serve the school community.

Our office has worked in partnership with the Department of Education to ensure teachers and support staff see no disruption in their pay – including certified and classified staff, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, administrative assistants, etc. 

For more information about guidance to schools, visit azed.gov. 

Are daycares allowed to remain open?  

The Arizona Department of Health Services announced new guidance for childcare providers.

Those guidelines include:

  • The Arizona Department of Health Services recommends that children should be kept home during this period. They should not be watched by individuals that are elderly or have underlying medical conditions. 
  • We recognize that many people need to continue working - primarily healthcare workers, first responders and critical infrastructure personnel.
  • Childcare services should implement protocols for symptom screening for all individuals entering the establishment, social distancing, staggered recreation time, prevention of classroom mixing, non-congregate meals and snacks and frequent cleaning and disinfection.

For more information, visit azhealth.gov. 

Where can I find CDC guidance on correctional facilities? 

Information about correctional facilities can be found at: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/correction-detention/guidance-correctional-detention.html#operational-preparedness

Where can I find childcare information? 

Information about child care options can be found at: 

https://des.az.gov/services/child-and-family/child-care

Additional information about meals for kids, childcare, special education considerations, learning 

resources for families and educators and more can be found at azed.gov.

Where can I access unemployment benefits? 

Per Governor Ducey’s Executive Order 2020-11, the following have been put into place to assist those impacted by COVID-19 in the State of Arizona:

  • The one-week waiting period after an employee loses a job before they apply for  unemployment benefits has been waived
  • Work search requirements for those receiving unemployment benefits have been waived
  • Those who work at a business that has been temporarily closed or has reduced hours because of COVID-19, who have to quarantine because of COVID-19, or who have to care for a family member with COVID-19 are now included on the list of people eligible for unemployment insurance. 

For more information and applications for Unemployment Insurance, visit the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

For information on Coronavirus relief resources available to citizens including unemployment benefits, school closures, and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.arizonatogether.org.  You can also dial  2-1-1 to speak to a representative in Spanish or English. . 

I need help paying rent. What do I do? 

On March 24, 2020, Governor Ducey issued an executive order delaying the enforcement of eviction for renters impacted by COVID-19 to ensure renters can stay in their homes during this crisis. 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.  

Additionally, the governor announced $5 million in new funding for the Rental Eviction Prevention Assistance Program. Rental assistance may be made available to those whose primary residence is a rental unit located in Arizona, who have seen a reduction in income due to COVID-19, and whose household income does not exceed the county median.

Application for rental assistance will be available Monday, March 30 via an online application system accessible from the Arizona Department of Housing’s website at www.azhousing.gov. Interested applicants who do not have computer access can call their local Community Action Agency to initiate an application over the telephone. 

Are taxes still due on April 15? 

On March 20, 2020, Governor Ducey instructed the Arizona Department of Revenue to move the deadline for filing and paying state income taxes from April 15 to July 15, 2020. 

This is consistent with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s announcement that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has moved the deadline for 2019 federal tax returns to July 15, 2020 and individual, corporate and fiduciary tax returns. 

The new deadline means taxpayers filing state tax returns or submitting payments after the previous April 15 deadline will not be assessed late payment penalties or interest. 

For more information, visit DOR’s website

Is there a way to access meals for seniors? 

Governor Doug Ducey 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. 

In addition, a number of local and national grocers and pharmacies are offering special hours. Here is a list

  • AJ's Fine Foods:  5 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Wednesdays (65+)
  • Albertsons: Until 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays ("the most at-risk" shoppers)
  • Bashas': 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Wednesdays (65+)
  • Big Lots: First hour of each day (seniors and those most vulnerable)
  • Costco: Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. (60+)
  • Dollar General: First hour of each days (seniors)
  • Food City:  5 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Wednesdays (65+) 
  • Fry's: 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., Monday through Thursday (60+)
  • Safeway:  7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday (vulnerable shoppers)
  • Sam's Club:  7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday (seniors, disabled, or compromised immune systems)
  • Target: First hour of shopping each Wednesday (elderly and those with underlying health concerns)
  • Trader Joe's:  Between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., crew members will maintain an additional line outside the front door for our senior customers to ensure customers in need will have an expedited entrance to the store. 
  • Walgreens: 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Tuesday (55+)
  • Whole Foods: One hour before opening to the general public (60+)
  • Walmart: One hour before opening to the general public (60+) 

Where can I access resources and assistance for small businesses? 

The Arizona Commerce Authority has information for small businesses available at: https://www.azcommerce.com/covid-19

How do I access assistance paying utility bills?

Many of Arizona’s utilities are offering special assistance during this health crisis.

On March 26, Governor Ducey announced a cooperative agreement with the state’s largest electric utilities so no one has their power shut off due to COVID-19. 

Under the agreement, Arizona Public Service (APS), Salt River Project (SRP), Tucson Electric Power (TEP) and six electric cooperatives have all agreed to the following:

  • No customer will have power to their home shut off during the remainder of the crisis for inability to pay.
  • No penalties, late fees or interest will be assessed during this time.
  • The utility companies will work with their customers to provide flexible options for payment, as well as guidance and choice of rate and payment plans.

Find more information here: 

https://azgovernor.gov/governor/news/2020/03/governor-ducey-announces-electric-utility-relief-package

You can also access information about assistance programs here: 

https://des.az.gov/services/basic-needs/shelter-housing/utility-assistance

How can I help, donate or volunteer? 

In response to COVID-19’s impact on the lives of Arizona families, Governor Ducey launched the Arizona Together initiative to support Arizonans during this time. This will connect individuals and businesses to resources, raise money for community organizations and provide information on volunteer opportunities.

Governor Ducey also established The AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund, to provide financial support to organizations working to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in Arizona. Initially, it will focus on funding Personal Protective Equipment for frontline professionals; supporting the most vulnerable and expanding technology to low-income students to get them learning online.

If you would like more information on Coronavirus relief resources available to citizens including unemployment benefits, school closures, and volunteer opportunities, please visit our website at www.arizonatogether.org, you can also dial  2-1-1 or 211arizona.org for more information. 

What happens if I need to renew my driver license? 

On March 19, 2020, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order providing the following extensions:

  • Driver License renewal requirements are extended six months from the expiration date for all Arizona driver licenses and driving permits that expire between March 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020.
    For example, if a driver license expires on March 20, 2020, the new expiration date will be September 20, 2020.
  • Requirements to submit a medical clearance card for a commercial driver license are extended until September 1, 2020.

These deferred dates will be reflected on motor vehicle records for impacted people.

Customers do not need to obtain a duplicate credential. Your current driver license or ID card will be accepted by law enforcement and other government agencies under this Executive Order. If desired, customers may obtain a duplicate driver license or ID on ServiceArizona.com that will show the new expiration date. Duplicate credentials may not be ordered in an MVD office; however Authorized Third Party services may be available. 

The extensions are designed for customer convenience and to limit in-person visits to motor vehicle offices.

To read the Governor’s Executive Orders in their entirety, click HERE

Do I still need to complete my emissions testing? 

Governor Ducey announced that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) will waive emissions testing for vehicle owners 65 and older for up to one year to allow them to renew their vehicle registrations.

If an emissions test is required, a waiver from ADEQ allows the vehicle owner to renew their vehicle registration online through the Arizona Department of Transportation. This change helps protect seniors by encouraging social distancing and reducing their risk of coming into contact with COVID-19.

This action by Governor Ducey is informed by guidance from public health experts. People over age 65 are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and this is another way Arizona can help encourage social distancing and protect the health of our seniors. 

What is Arizona doing to protect our prisons? 

The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry (ADCRR) is taking a proactive approach to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in our prisons. ADCRR has implemented the following measures to defend against the spread of the COVID‐19 virus:

  • March 13, 2020, ADCRR suspended general and legal visitation for a period of 30 days, after which time the suspension will be re-evaluated.
  • March 16, 2020, ADCRR’s phone and internet provider (CenturyLink) began offering inmates two 15‐minute phone calls per week at no charge, in addition to the existing phone call and written letter privileges.
  • March 17, 2020 all inmate classes provided by local community colleges were suspended
  • March 18, 2020, a $4‐copay that inmates pay for health care services is being waived for those who are experiencing flu or cold‐like symptoms.
  • March 25, 2020, ADCRR pulled back all off site work crews, effective immediately. The female crew from ASPC Perryville assigned to Hickman’s Family Farm will continue their work and will be temporarily housed on site at the farm and away from ASPC Perryville
  • Restricted all routine internal movement of inmates across all Arizona prison complexes to control exposure. Specialty needs for inmate movements will be evaluated on a case-by‐case basis. External medical needs will continue based on provider availability.
  • Effective immediately, Wardens at each Arizona prison complex are initiating a weekly deep cleaning of all facilities. 
  • Until such time as the COVID‐19 Emergency Declaration has expired, ADCRR is providing free hand soap to all inmates upon request. 

If you have any further questions, you may contact the ADCRR directly at (602) 364-3945.

You may also visit the following link for updates on the actions being taken with regard to Management Strategy: Arizona Department of Corrections.

Do I still need to make child support payments? 

Yes, however if you have experienced a change in your income, you may be able to request a modification. If the Department of Economic Security (DES) is involved in your child support case, you should contact DES to assist in seeking a modification order from the court based on a change in income. The court is conducting such hearings telephonically at this time. If DES is not involved, you can reach out to one of the legal resources below to explore your options. 

If your case is a DES child support case, click HERE for their support page 

And click HERE to be directed to their FAQ page for information on how to request modifications with DES cases.

Self-help legal services can be found at AZcourthelp.org

In addition, below are legal resources available to Arizonans: 

LEGAL RESOURCES

Arizona Foundation for Legal Services

4201 North 24th Street, Suite 210

Phoenix, Arizona 85016-6288

Phone:(602) 340-7366

Website: www.azflse.org

 

The State Bar of Arizona

4201 North 24th Street, Suite 100

Phoenix, Arizona 85016-6266

Phone: (602) 252-4804

Website: www.azbar.org

 

Maricopa County Bar Association

Lawyer Referral

530 East McDowell Road, Suite 107-415

Phoenix, AZ 85004

Phone: (602) 257-4200

Website: https://maricopabar.org/index.cfm?pg=LRSHome

 

Pima County Bar Association

177 North Church Avenue, Suite 101

Tucson, AZ 85701

Phone: (520) 623-8258

Website: www.pimacountybar.org

 

Southern Arizona Legal Aid

2343 East Broadway Boulevard

Tucson, AZ 85719

Phone: (520) 623-9461

Website: http://www.sazlegalaid.org/

 

Step Up to Justice

320 North Commerce Park Loop, Suite 100

Tucson, AZ 85745

Website: www.stepuptojustice.org