With the threat of COVID-19 looming ever closer, residents and businesses in the Copper Corridor are preparing for the worst.
What exactly is COVID-19 and why is this such a big deal?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Patients with COVID-19 have had a mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath. The virus can cause pneumonia, organ failure and death in the most severe cases.
Federal, state and local officials are calling for social distancing to help control the spread. All schools in Arizona have been closed for the next two weeks. This closure is likely to be extended as the number of infected cases increase. Arizona isn’t one of the “hot spots” but the virus is expected to affect more than 70,000 in Arizona.
Officials have also limited the number of people allowed in a group to 10, prompting other closures and changes to businesses. Restaurants are encouraged to go to curbside or delivery only and close to inside dining. Likewise, bars are being encouraged to close.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, of which all Catholic churches in Pinal and Gila counties are members, has canceled or suspended all parish-based public gatherings for the next three weeks (until April 6), including:
• No public Masses after March 16, 2020.
• The Sunday Mass obligation is dispensed for all Catholic people residing in or visiting the territory of the Diocese of Tucson. Catholics are urged to observe Sunday in accord with our teachings, which may include spending additional time on Sunday in prayer, observing a Catholic Mass via television or internet, or other pious practices.
• Confirmations scheduled during this time period are suspended and will be rescheduled
• There are to be no public Church events or gatherings, such as parish religious education programs, Stations of the Cross, Communion services, Quinceañeras, parish missions, dinners, etc.
• Mass of the Holy Oils, “Chrism Mass,” will be celebrated privately with Holy Oils to be distributed privately to priests.
• Weddings should be restricted to 10 persons, and if Mass is celebrated only the bride and groom, if Catholic, are to receive Holy Communion.
• Funeral Masses should be restricted to 10 persons, and the congregation should not receive Holy Communion.
If planning to attend a funeral, please check with the church or funeral home before going. Funerals at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic church are being postponed. The Tri-Community (Mammoth, San Manuel and Oracle) Knights of Columbus have canceled the Lenten Friday Fish Fry events for the rest of the Lent.
Other events in the Copper Corridor have been canceled or postponed.
The Town of Superior canceled last week’s Apache Leap Mining Festival. Likewise, the Oracle Community Center and the Oracle Historical Society have canceled Oracle Oaks Festival and the Oracle Spring Run Car Show, respectively. The Oracle Artists Studio Tour has been rescheduled for May 16 and 17.
Please check our Community Calendar for additional event cancelations and check our additional story for other closures.
People can help protect themselves from COVID-19, flu and other respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Finally, an unidentified pilot took to the skies over Sydney, Australia to reinforce the message that instead of wringing their hands over the hardships they must endure during the pandemic, they should wash them instead to help prevent the spread of the disease. The skywriter inscribed the words, “Wash Hands,” over the city so that all of its citizens could see.