COVID Newsletter/Calls to Action

As we head into the peak weeks of COVID-19 affecting our community, we acknowledge our friends, relatives, and community members who are struggling with this disease, and some who are mourning the deaths of loved ones. Our hearts and thoughts are with you and please reach out if you need help. We are here for you. Join us in our weekly COVID-19 call. This week we had a great conversation with County Supervisor Art Babbott, State Senator Jamescita Peshlakai, and Keith Brekhus, constituent representative for Congressman O’Halleran.

Our next call is Tuesday, April 14th at Noon via Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/624485586Meeting ID: 624 485 586One tap mobile+13126266799,,624485586# US (Chicago)+19292056099,,624485586# US (New York) 

Highlighted Article of the WeekThis is a great article detailing the current administration’s dysfunctional and negligent response in the first 70 days of the COVID-19 crisis. 

National Advocacy

Call the White House 202-456-1111. Demand our federal government fully implement the National Defense Production for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and test kits. Our front line workers are at grave risk because the President has not taken this action.  

Support the Democrats in Congress who are pushing a bill to provide further support to hospitals and local and state governments as well as providing additional funding for loans to small businesses. 

State Advocacy

This week we must advocate for the State Legislature to return to session! They planned to return April 13th, however now there are rumors of pushing back to April 30th or not reconvening at all. There is too much at stake and they should not delay any longer. Call Karen Fann, Senate President 602-926-5874 and Rusty Bowers, House Spearker 602-926-3128 to get them back to work. You will find our other recommended advocacy in this document. We are focusing on all-mail elections and continuing to advocate for Personal Protection Equipment for our front line workers, and test kits, and more authorized expenditures from the Rainy Day fund. Here are some more things the Legislature could work on.

Local Advocacy

  1. We are advocating for regular County Virtual Town Halls. We need increased two-way communication with County officials and the public. Please email/call your County Supervisor:
  2. We are advocating for a safe housing solution for the homeless in light of COVID-19. County Supervisor Art Babbott informed us that the Aspen Inn is currently housing 35 people, all who are awaiting Covid testing results or have tested positive. However, we need to advocate the necessity of individual rooms for the homeless in order to prevent the spread of infection. Please contact Flagstaff City Council and your County Supervisor.

Stay Home – Stay Safe

The question everyone asks is when will COVID-19 be over. It’s impossible to know, but one of the best models we’ve found is from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. This model is regularly updated and the latest version predicts that peak demand for resources in Arizona will occur on April 22. But don’t rush outside on the 23rd, because COVID cases will not magically drop to zero after the peak. Total hospitalizations and deaths will continue to increase until June 1. The risk of a second wave will continue until a vaccine becomes available so precautions should continue as advised even when stay at home orders are lifted.


The IHME model predicts 570 (range 230-2361) deaths for the entire state. Coconino County currently accounts for 15% of Arizonans who have died, suggesting that our final total could be as high as 354. It is important to realize that these values assume that our current level of social distancing will continue. Relaxing these strict measures now could cause Arizona deaths to skyrocket. So, now is the time to be staying home, to be saying ‘no’, to be maximizing other ways of making a difference in our community.  

Personal Protective Equipment for Frontline Workers

 Northern Arizona Healthcare started a website which shows the hospital census (total number of patients hospitalized for any reason) and the current number of in-house positive and pending tests. Numbers will differ from the County Website, as the County counts are based on where a person lives. 

Tuba City Regional Healthcare Center also started their own hospital dashboard.   

Due to our discussions last week, we reached out to both FMC and TCRHCC to start publicly advertising their PPE needs, so that we could better advocate. We are grateful to see that both have done so! 

FMC Donations: Anyone with extra supplies of N95 masks, surgical masks, gloves, and gowns should donate to your local hospitals. FMC is collecting donations at their foundation office, across the street from the ER 1030 N. San Francisco Suite 130, 928-773-2093. 

Tuba City Regional Healthcare Center:  Donations Website  Includes links for donations, equipment needs, and even patterns for homemade masks/gowns etc.

 KAFF list of Facilities in Northern Arizona in Need of Supplies 

Flagstaff Folks who like to sew: Join this Facebook Group for the latest updates on the Sinagua Sewing efforts for PPE for FMC. They are on hold for now, due to lack of material but are encouraging folks to sew at home using 100% cotton fabrics. 

We still need to advocate STRONGLY for a coordinated State and Federal response to lack of PPE at healthcare facilities in Northern Arizona.

Changing Guidance on Masks

Because you can be contagious before you start showing symptoms, the CDC is now recommending cloth mask usage in public. Hospitals are also accepting hand made masks to give to patients and patient’s families to reduce the spread. Sewing homemade masks is a worthwhile effort! If you don’t sew, here is an alternative way to quickly make a mask at home. Remember, it’s not just about protecting you, it’s about protecting all of us.

COVID-19 Testing

According to the AZ Department of Health Services website, Coconino County and Navajo County have a 21% rate of positive testing, which are the highest in the state. The state average is 7%. This could mean that we have just more cases. It could also mean that we aren’t testing enough in Coconino and Navajo Counties compared to the rest of the state. Either way, we should strongly advocate for more testing capabilites, especially in Northern Arizona. Right now, testing is limited to front line workers and those in vulnerable populations where testing would alter their course of treatment, however some groups, like grocery workers, are not included. Forbes makes the argument this week that increased testing is the key to economic recovery. 

Stimulus Donations Campaign

The Coconino County Democratic Party asks our members who can afford it, to donate their $1200 economic impact payment to those in our community who have been severely impacted during this time of the Covid-19 Pandemic. These include the homeless, the unemployed, the undocumented and the poorest residents of our community.

Coconino Democratic PCs Phyllis Schiller and Marilyn Weissman have put this information on Northern Arizona organizations together for us. Please consider donating to one or more of these organizations.

Flagstaff Food Bank continues with Emergency Food Box distribution, open Tuesday – Saturday 9 am – 1 pm, no-contact distribution. They are also doing home deliveries. Volunteers are needed but will need to do special training. Donate Here

Our PCs in Williams inform us that there is also great need in the Williams area, as the lack of tourist traffic is greatly affecting the town. Please consider donating to these organizations!

Native Community Relief Efforts and Needs

Why is COVID-19 an urgent problem in Northern Arizona specifically? According to this analysis, the per population rate of COVID-19 cases in Navajo counties is higher than in New York City, Seattle, and the surrounding non-Navajo counties when looking at the time after the first case was diagnosed. 

Last week, members of White Mountain Indivisible and Navajo County & Coconino County Democrats organized a shipment of hay, dog food, and children’s snacks, which was delivered to elders in the Tolani Lake area by Jonathan Yazzie, our organizer. The donation was much appreciated! 

The Navajo Nation has set up a donation contact: Dorren McPaul 928-871-6345. We are waiting for a donation link and will provide it in the republication of this newsletter on our website when it becomes available. As of Monday morning, it seems that the Navajo Nation is still in the process of setting up infrastructure. Continue donating to the Navajo/Hopi Covid-19 Relief Fund, organized by Ethel Branch, former Attorney General of the Navajo Nation. If able, fill this form to Volunteer or Request Support; there are opportunities in Flagstaff. Their focus is food distribution to high risk populations, mostly elderly and immunocompromised. 

St. Mary’s Food Bank is sending 3 semi truckloads of food to Tuba City on April 14. They need volunteers to help pack and distribute food through their no-contact protocol. If you are willing and able to travel to Tuba City that day, contact Linda Guarino. Training will be arranged in advance via Zoom. If you can’t volunteer, please consider donating to help cover transportation costs.

Steve Hirst has been reaching out the other tribal communities in Coconino County and here is his latest update.

Disaster Response Volunteering

Anyone wanting to volunteer to work on Coconino County’s COVID-19 disaster response can sign up online. They are looking both for people with healthcare experience (including retired people) as well as general volunteers. It is important that before you sign up that you think through what skills and services you might be able to contribute, and also to be able to identify what you are willing to do as well as what you are NOT willing to do. So far, the county has not activated its volunteer list, but they expect to do so as the number of cases rises.

Unemployment Compensation Expansion

Federal Unemployment Benefits are mandated by the CARES ACT, which was passed by both houses of Congress. It authorized extended benefits for an additional 13 weeks for unemployment benefits (39 weeks). All who receive state unemployment benefits from the state will also receive an additional federal unemployment benefit of $600 per week. 

State Unemployment Benefit: Layoffs and Underemployment The state of Arizona will pay unemployment benefits of $187 to $240 per week based on income history. This amount is increased by $600 per week in Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. Arizona pays unemployment for 26 weeks, CARES act authorizes Arizona to extend unemployment benefits an additional 13 weeks, therefore all benefits will extend to a total of 39 weeks. Any person that has been laid off, furloughed (laid off but retains benefits), or had their employment reduced will qualify for state benefits. As mandated by the CARES ACT, unemployment recipients will receive both state and federal benefits combined as one payment from the state. 

Independent contractors, “gig” workers, on-call workers, temporary workers and on-line platform workers also qualify for state (a first for Arizona) and federal benefits.  Start your claim here. We recommend contacting Congressman O’Halleran’s office, 928-286-5338, if you are denied. So far, the Arizona Department of Economic Security has not caught up with the influx of claims and for days was and still may be operating on old regulations.

The 2020 Census – Fill it out NOW!

We should be strongly encouraging our friends and neighbors to complete the census. Visit the website or call 844-330-2020 for help. Arizona’s self response rate is 43.7% and Coconino County’s is 26.2%. So we have a lot of work still to do. The deadline has been pushed back to August 14th.

Resources

Other Items — Stay in Touch — Stay Active

Our Monthly Coconino Democratic Action Meeting will be this Saturday 10-11:30 AM via Zoom! Guest Speakers Bryan Bates, Candidate for Board of Supervisors, District 4 and Patty Hansen, County Recorder. We will also be training on speaking to independent voters.

https://zoom.us/j/575911940Meeting ID: 575 911 940One tap mobile+13462487799,,575911940# US (Houston)+16699006833,,575911940# US (San Jose) 

Our Facebook Page: With COVID, social media is more important than ever. Reactivate your account 🙂 and do some online advocacy and information sharing.

Our website’s latest news column will have short action items you can execute. 

Our Website Calendar has a list of Phone Banks to join. PLEASE make a few phone calls with the LD 6 Campaign or Mission for Arizona. We must elect new leaders this November. 

Our Roosevelt Kennedy Auction is closed! Thank you to our generous donors and bidders. We have raised more money with this year’s auction than ever! Thanks for supporting the Coconino Democrats! 

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