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Kozachik: Coronavirus shutdown: When will we know it's over?

Excerpted from Councilman Steve Kozachik's weekly newsletter:

I was on a statewide conference call last week that included some pretty savvy docs. Some were virologists, others have significant respiratory and heart medicine backgrounds. I asked the question, "What measurable, objective criteria might we look for that will signal a winding down of the local impacts we're seeing so the entire community can begin to resume whatever a new normal may look like?"

We have to have something to look for that reflects the light at the end of this long tunnel. The answer was "testing." Not just some testing, but the ability to test us all.

OK, that's coming from the front lines. Test kits are right now being manufactured and distributed. The University of Arizona is playing a large role in that effort. We won't see sufficient numbers of kits unless and until the state Legislature allocates the funding to get us there.

But during a Joint Legislative Budget Committee meeting last week, the state number-crunchers were projecting a $1 billion deficit at the state level.

That's a fluid projection because they won't have sales tax revenue numbers until mid-June. That's because of the lag time between when sales taxes are collected by businesses, and when they're transmitted to the state. For example, March was a half-bad month. They won't get those revenues until early May. The April revenues will reflect a full month of bad news. The state won't get those dollars until early June. And it'll be July before they get the May tax revenues. Do you see why I'm not real confident that we'll be back in operation at Ward 6 by even June 1?

What about what some other doctors are saying? I read a report last week that was published in the New York Times. It offered four benchmarks for what they called a "return to normalcy." They have an equally long time horizon. They include:

A) Hospitals must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care. That means having adequate beds, ventilators and staff.

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B) The authorities must be able to test everyone who has symptoms, and to get reliable results quickly. That would be well more than 750,000 tests a week in the U.S.

C) Health agencies must be able to monitor confirmed cases, trace contacts of the infected, and have at-risk people into isolation or quarantine.

D) There must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days – that's how long it can take for symptoms to appear.

As you can see from the criteria that the medical people are suggesting as signs of when we can even begin to let our guard down, we've got a long way to go.

Steve Kozachik represents Ward 6 on the Tucson City Council. Contact him at at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or (520) 791-4601.

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