/ Modified aug 16, 2021 9:57 a.m.

Pima County overdose deaths, eviction resources, mask and vaccine mandates

Plus, how some evictions are playing out in court.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the effects of the nation’s opioid epidemic have not let up in southern Arizona. The Pima County Health Department recently warned that overdose deaths in 2021 are on pace to set a record for the third consecutive year. Of the more than 240 people who have died so far this year, more than half overdosed on the powerful, synthetic opioid fentanyl. Tony Paniagua reports on why health officials cite the pandemic as a reason for increased substance misuse.

While a moratorium on evictions has been extended through October for much of the country, the clock is ticking for thousands of people in southern Arizona. Some disputes between landlords and tenants still make their way to court. Arizona 360 learned more about how hearings are presided over during the pandemic in the courtroom of Judge Ronald Newman with the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court. Newman oversees eviction cases.

As of August, renters in Pima County have access to more help. The county recently launched its Office of Emergency Eviction Legal Services. Funding came in May from the American Rescue Plan and since then the county has been busy setting up the program which includes legal aid. Andy Flagg, deputy director of Community Workforce and Development at Pima County, explained more about the services offered. More information can be found by calling (520)724-3357 or by visiting pima.gov/evictionlegalservices.

As new COVID-19 cases surge, all three of Arizona’s public universities are challenging the state’s ban on mask mandates in schools by issuing their own requirements. The University of Arizona announced masks must be worn in all indoor spaces where social distancing is not possible. That’s welcome news for campus groups like the Coalition for Academic Justice at the University of Arizona. Members include faculty, staff and students. Arizona 360 heard from Leila Hudson, an associate professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies. The conversation took place shortly before the UA revised its mask policy and focused on the group’s concerns about the upcoming fall semester.

While state law dictates what schools in Arizona can’t mandate when it comes to the pandemic, the rules don’t apply to all employers. We got clarification about the legal boundaries employers and employees operate in from labor attorney Barney Holtzman.

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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