In light of the escalating COVID-19 pandemic and the governor’s call last week to “Stay home, Stay healthy, Stay connected,” many Valley residents are embracing social distancing.
Diana Wenners, a recent retiree now living in Sun City West, said shelter-at-home has been her priority for a while already.
“I’ve been locked down for probably three weeks now,” Ms. Wenners said. “It’s sort of a double-edged sword if you will. It makes me feel safer to stay away from people, but it causes anxiety because you are isolated.”
But the disrupted lifestyle hasn’t been all bad, she said, since social distancing has given her more time to focus on exercise and other personal improvements efforts.
“I’ve been renewing my love of physical activity by getting out and walking each day,” Ms. Wenners said. “I see a lot more people out walking on the sidewalks here in Sun City West. So, I think fresh air and physical activity or something people are using to cope.”
And she is embracing some new strategies as well. Concerned by community transmission risks still posed by grocery shopping and other necessary travels, she is trying out online shopping and pickup.
“I am currently using it for the first time,” Ms. Wenners said. “I ordered from Fry’s for pick up last Friday and my pickup will be ready at 5 o’clock today. We’ll see how it goes. I’m still going to need to go to the store at some point, but I’m hoping to limit my time inside.”
Not everything is available for curbside service however, since those items typically out of stock over the past month remain so when ordering online — namely, toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
Some grocers now offer some form of shopping assistance and curbside pickup with little or no additional costs associated.
Another change in routine — though not required by Gov. Doug Ducey’s March 30 shelter in place order — will be avoiding hair and nail salons, Ms. Wenners said.
“I would absolutely not go into a hair or nail salon right now,” she said. My friend went and got her haircut yesterday and said there were only three people in the shop. She watched them disinfect between customers. For me, I wouldn’t risk it.”
Many states, such as neighboring California, have included hair salons and other hygiene-related business among those required to close; while in Arizona, the governor has chosen to include those among “essential” businesses allowed to remain open.
While some may debate the health risks associated with such services, a petition started at change.org, ostensibly by beauty industry professionals, had gathered 8,759 signatures as of Wednesday, calling on Mr. Ducey to take salons off the exempt list.
Petition organizer Rebecca Sanchez described her rationale in the petition narrative.
“We are not essential businesses … No matter how hard we work at maintaining the highest sanitation procedures and follow guidelines of 10 or less gathering recommendations, we cannot maintain the 6-foot distance rule,” Ms. Sanchez wrote. “At many times during any service, we are 12 inches away from our clients multiple times a day. No one knows for sure if someone has to be exhibiting symptoms to be contagious; we could unconsciously be spreading the virus and putting our community at large at greater risk.”
While many practitioners want to shut down — both for their own safety and for that of the community — some fear while still listed as “essential,” they will be denied government assistance if they voluntarily stop working, she stated.
“Many of our professionals have no choice but to continue working,” Ms. Sanchez stated. “Many of us have decided to stop on our own, but our state and federal government needs to shut us down immediately so that we will be eligible for unemployment or federal assistance and no-interest SBA loans. Please mandate a shutdown for these service providers in the state of Arizona.”
With the agency reporting 964 positive cases and 12 deaths in Maricopa County alone as of Wednesday, Department of Public Health officials have launched its donation management program to deal with the continuing shortage of personal protective equipment.
“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and shortage of personal protective equipment, we have activated a donations management plan,” officials stated.
The county’s donations warehouse reception area is open 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Roosevelt Clinic, 1645 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix.
Items sought include: surgical masks; N95 respirators; isolation gowns; face shields or googles; exam gloves; thermometers; hand sanitizer; paper towels; and disinfectant wipes.
Ms. Wenners said she and others in her community have also been working to produce masks to donate.
“There is an army of women here in town sewing 100% cotton masks for healthcare workers in the area,” she said. “They have already distributed hundreds and hundreds and have only been at it for about two weeks. Now that I think about it, they’ve probably distributed a couple thousand at this point.”