March 13, 2020

COVID-19 preparedness, TPD deflection program, census undercount

Plus, understanding the long-term economic impacts of the novel coronavirus.

Amid increased precautions across all levels of government to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Arizona 360 spoke to Pima County’s chief medical officer, Dr. Francisco Garcia, about what the county recommends.

“What Pima County is saying is that we each need to put our own oxygen mask on first before we put it on our seat mates, to borrow an analogy from the airline industry,” Garcia said. “That looks like making sure we’re staying home if we’re sick. Culturally, that might be a big shift depending on the profession, but we need to figure out how to make that happen.”

Garcia also urged people not to panic and to get their information about COVID-19 from trusted sources, such as the county health department.

“This is not something that we’ve seen before. And I think that that’s where the source of panic is coming from,” Garcia said.


Reactions to COVID-19 have resulted in financial setbacks around the world. University of Arizona Eller College of Management economist George Hammond explained some of the repercussions and their impact in Arizona.

“The spread of the virus and our reaction to the virus is going to have a big impact on the travel and tourism sectors,” Hammond said. He added that leisure and hospitality as well as the arts and entertainment industry encompass about 11% of jobs in the state.

According to Hammond, most of the economists he has spoken to put the odds of a recession at 50% as a result of the coronavirus.

“That would be kind of a moderate downturn starting during the April to June period. So, next quarter, probably lasting for a quarter or two,” Hammond said. He estimated it would take several quarters for the economy to recover.


Within the week, municipalities and groups in Pima County have canceled dozens of events in response to COVID-19 concerns. The cancellations come during what is normally a busy time of the year for tourism, according to Visit Tucson President Brent DeRaad. DeRaad discussed some of the short-term impacts the group anticipates and what the community can do to mitigate some of effects.


While the state’s opioid epidemic resulted in more widespread use of fentanyl and heroin, in Tucson that hasn’t necessarily translated into more arrests for those caught with the drugs. Arizona 360 joined the Tucson Police Department’s Substance Use Resource Team to see how officers implement the department’s deflection program. Instead of taking people to jail, officers and peer support specialists with CODAC Health, Recovery and Wellness can talk them into treatment.

The program began in July 2018 and is designed to help people struggling with substance misuse disorder overcome their addiction and, as a result, put an end to crimes associated with drug addiction. Since it began, officers have completed more than 1,100 deflections, according to the Southwest Institute for Research on Women based at the University of Arizona. The institute is tasked with evaluating the program’s success.

The deflection program applies to adults arrested in possession of a variety of narcotics, including heroin and meth. They cannot have an outstanding warrant for a violent crime or domestic violence.


While the U.S. Census Bureau plans to collect census forms online, by phone or through the mail, inevitably not everyone will participate. During the 2010 census, about a quarter of all households in Arizona failed to send back their forms, according to Jason Jurjevich, an associate professor of practice at the University of Arizona School of Geography and Development. Jurjevich authored a report examining the state’s hard-to-count populations and looked at how many Arizonans could potentially fail to respond to the 2020 census without improved outreach. He discussed his findings with Lorraine Rivera and explained how an undercount could impact the entire state.

“It’s about money and power,” Jurjevich said. “An average Arizonan brings in roughly $3,000 in federal funding per person, per year to the state. That’s determined by census numbers.”

Read his entire report here.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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