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Latest News in Maricopa, AZ

Maricopa County health official says COVID-19 could surge when new school year starts

Rebecca Sunenshine with Maricopa County Public Health expects cases to increase when kids get back in the classroom.PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- For the fourth school year in a row, COVID-19 is impacting the classroom as thousands of Arizona kids return to school over the next few weeks. Since Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are highly contagious, Rebecca Sunenshine with Maricopa County Public Health expects cases to increase when kids get back in the classroom.“We’ve sort of plateaued at this level of high trans...

Rebecca Sunenshine with Maricopa County Public Health expects cases to increase when kids get back in the classroom.

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- For the fourth school year in a row, COVID-19 is impacting the classroom as thousands of Arizona kids return to school over the next few weeks. Since Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are highly contagious, Rebecca Sunenshine with Maricopa County Public Health expects cases to increase when kids get back in the classroom.

“We’ve sort of plateaued at this level of high transmission that we’re at now so that’s why it’s really important for everyone to be aware of it. It has not really started to go down at this point. I hope that it will before the school year starts, but once kids go back to school, we’re bound to see a lot more community transmission,” Sunenshine said.

The county’s Medical Director for Disease Control says if a student or teacher tests positive, they should still stay home for five days per CDC guidelines. After that, they can return to school but she advises them to wear a mask for the next five days.

But what happens if your child is asymptotic, do they still need to stay home for five days?

“If you test positive for COVID for any reason, you need to stay at home for five days, and then wear a mask for five additional days and I don’t really see that changing anytime in the near future. We know that even if you’re not having symptoms, you can still spread the disease,” Sunenshine said.

Sunenshine says if your child gets exposed to COVID, they can still go to school. She recommends they wear a mask in the classroom.

“If somebody in your household had COVID, because that’s where we see transmission the most often, those students need to be wearing a mask for 10 days following their last exposure,” Sunenshine said. She adds this is only guidance and school districts may have varying protocols for the upcoming school year. “Our role in public health is to administer guidance so that school administrators can develop policies to keep their students and staff safe,”

Copyright 2022 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.

Maricopa County to administer limited monkeypox vaccine supply

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Department of Public Health announced it will prioritize the limited amount of monkeypox vaccines to those known to have or been exposed to monkeypox with four new cases identified this week, according to a press release.With a limited vaccine supply, the department will administer the vaccine to only those identified as contacts of monkeypox cases.The existing supply of the vaccine can be used for post-and-pre-exposure protection for a limited number of public health workers who are working in t...

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Department of Public Health announced it will prioritize the limited amount of monkeypox vaccines to those known to have or been exposed to monkeypox with four new cases identified this week, according to a press release.

With a limited vaccine supply, the department will administer the vaccine to only those identified as contacts of monkeypox cases.

The existing supply of the vaccine can be used for post-and-pre-exposure protection for a limited number of public health workers who are working in the outbreak, the release said.

“At this time, we have limited quantities of vaccine, which we are prioritizing for people who we know or suspect have been exposed and are within the post-exposure timeframe where that protection can still be effective,” executive director of MCDPH Marcy Flanagan said in the release.

“We are also working with our state and federal partners to secure additional doses so that we are prepared to move into a phase of providing pre-exposure protection to those who are at higher risk,” Flanagan said. “As soon as we have enough vaccine, we will be holding clinics for those at highest risk of being exposed.”

The department will have a total of 440 doses of vaccine by this weekend, after adding 340 additional doses after more outbreak, medical epidemiologist for MCDPH Dr. Nick Staab told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Saturday.

Staab said the vaccine is a two-dose vaccine, where those receive their second dose four weeks after the first, similar to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Two weeks after the second dose, you are completely immunized, Staab said.

With the four new cases in Maricopa County, Staab said the total of monkeypox cases is at five after the initial case identified on June 7.

“This is a fluid situation, we have a number of individuals who are currently in the process of being tested so we expect that number to increase,” Staab said.

Despite these plans, the department made it clear that this should not cause concern for the public.

“Monkeypox is still not common, and it spreads primarily through significant skin-to-skin or intimate contact,” MCDPH’s medical director for disease control Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine said in the release.

Staab echoed that statement and said monkeypox is still a very rare disease.

He recommended that if you have or rash or see someone with one, don’t touch it just to be safe.

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Extreme Heat: NWS issues excessive heat warning for Maricopa, Pinal, Coconino counties

PHOENIX - People should prepare for a hot weekend, as the National Weather Service issued an Excessive Heat Warning.The warning, according to NWS officials in Phoenix, covers Maricopa and Pinal Counties. It will take effect at 10:00 a.m. on July 16, and is scheduled to...

PHOENIX - People should prepare for a hot weekend, as the National Weather Service issued an Excessive Heat Warning.

The warning, according to NWS officials in Phoenix, covers Maricopa and Pinal Counties. It will take effect at 10:00 a.m. on July 16, and is scheduled to expire at 8:00 p.m. on July 17.

For Coconino County in areas below 4,000 feet elevation, the warning is from 9:00 a.m. July 16 through 7 p.m. on July 17.

"High Heat Risk. Overexposure can cause heat cramps and heat exhaustion to develop and, without intervention, can lead to heat stroke," a portion of the warning reads.

The Arizona Department of Health Services says residents are advised to stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay informed.

MORE: Not getting enough water? Eat it with these hydrating foods

Preventing heat exhaustion/heat stroke

The Arizona Department of Health Services stated the following precautions can be taken to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke:

Driving in extreme temperatures

The Arizona Department of Transportation’s tips for driving in extreme temperatures include:

Have sun protection: In addition to an umbrella, take sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat and wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing.

Fuel up: Keep your tank at three-quarters full. Running out of gas, especially in a remote location, is dangerous in extreme heat.

Hydrate: Take a cooler to keep extra drinking water cold, and consider adding several frozen bottles of water to use for cooling off or to thaw and drink if needed. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays hydrated.

Get help: If your vehicle breaks down in extreme heat, call for assistance right away to reduce wait time, and run the AC. If the AC isn’t working, roll down all windows.

Wait safely: If the temperature inside your vehicle becomes too hot, everyone, including pets, should exit carefully and seek out or create a shaded area as far away from the travel lanes as possible. Be careful walking on the road surface, which can be hot enough to burn skin. Keep your shoes on and try to keep your pets’ paws off the pavement. If you are stopped along the highway, raise the front hood and turn on hazard lights. Please keep in mind that parking in tall brush can start a fire.

Check your vehicle: You can help avoid breakdowns and blowouts by making sure your vehicle is in good operating condition. Check your air conditioner and coolant levels, top off any vital engine fluids and make sure your battery is up to par. Check your tire pressure, as the combination of under inflated tires and hot pavement can lead to a blowout.

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New Phoenix shelter is more than a one-night stop for people experiencing homelessness

Jennifer Morgan, the program director for a new shelter at 28th and Washington streets in Phoenix, says her team doesn’t just find places for clients to live. “It’s about that positive impact on people’s lives and restoring those connections with their loved ones, with society in general,” she says. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)James Farrier and his dog, Grace, stand in the dining room at a new shelter in P...

Jennifer Morgan, the program director for a new shelter at 28th and Washington streets in Phoenix, says her team doesn’t just find places for clients to live. “It’s about that positive impact on people’s lives and restoring those connections with their loved ones, with society in general,” she says. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)

James Farrier and his dog, Grace, stand in the dining room at a new shelter in Phoenix. Guests are allowed to keep their pets at the shelter. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)

Guests relax in the day room at the new Phoenix shelter on East Washington Street. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)

Jennifer Morgan, the program director for a new shelter at 28th and Washington streets in Phoenix, says her team doesn’t just find places for clients to live. “It’s about that positive impact on people’s lives and restoring those connections with their loved ones, with society in general,” she says. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)

The dining room at the Phoenix shelter is a spot for people to eat and socialize. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)

Guests can come and go at the shelter at 28th and Washington streets in Phoenix, as well as meet with their case managers in the dining room. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)

James Farrier and his dog, Grace, stand in the dining room at a new shelter in Phoenix. Guests are allowed to keep their pets at the shelter. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)

Guests relax in the day room at the new Phoenix shelter on East Washington Street. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – After spending the night at a shelter, people experiencing homelessness usually have to pack their belongings the next morning and be out in just a few hours. But what if a shelter offered more? What if people woke up and didn’t have to worry about immediately going back onto the streets?

That’s what the 200 guests at a new shelter at 28th and Washington streets get to experience – without an end date looming.

When they wake up here, they can watch the morning news in the day room or pick up breakfast in the dining room. Security officers are stationed inside and patrol the grounds outside. Guests can meet with case workers, and pets are welcome. At the end of the day, guests can lock their possessions in an assigned storage trunk next to their bed and sleep in a stable, safe place.

The shelter, which opened May 13, is funded by a partnership between the city and Maricopa County, and operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Although it opened just in time for summer and was billed as a “heat-relief” shelter with joint funding through October, Phoenix plans to continue to operate year-round through 2024.

The shelter reached its 200-person capacity just five weeks after opening. Guests are referred by outreach teams and must be 18 or older.

Most shelters give beds to people experiencing homelessness for only one night. Guests at the new shelter have a dedicated bed that’s theirs for the duration of their stay, with no defined time limit. Case managers work with them at least once a week to find more permanent housing and other services for needs they may have, such as mental health care.

“What we’re really focused on is outcomes, and that means that we want people to complete the shelter program with a positive housing exit,” said Jennifer Morgan, the shelter’s program director.

A “positive housing exit” is one in which the shelter guest transitions to a permanent living situation, such as a housing facility, personal apartment or with family. Since opening in May, the shelter has had 10 positive housing exits.

“There’s an entire team of individuals here whose main focus is just on creating positive outcomes for people, and that’s not a number on a page,” Morgan said. “That’s not about who gets into an apartment and who doesn’t. It’s about that positive impact on people’s lives and restoring those connections with their loved ones, with society in general.”

The need for shelters is even more dire in the extreme heat of the summer, as heat-related illnesses cause hundreds of deaths every year in Maricopa County, “and a majority of those are unsheltered individuals,” Morgan said.

“The weather has an impact on what we’re able to provide and when we’re able to provide it,” Morgan said. “The need for a program like this one has existed, but the urgency was created by the heat.”

The shelter also takes COVID-19 pandemic precautions. Testing is required to enter the shelter, and guests are tested if they experience COVID symptoms. Those who test positive are quarantined and distanced from one another.

What's next for Arizona's roads after transportation bill veto?

More than 50% of the highways in the Valley have pavement that is older than its life expectancy. One of the potential tools to fund it got a veto.PHOENIX — For nearly 40 years, every purchase made in Maricopa County added a little money to help pay for our infrastructure.However, soon that money could dry up.Earlier this month, Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed HB 2685, which would have allowed people in Maricopa County to decide...

More than 50% of the highways in the Valley have pavement that is older than its life expectancy. One of the potential tools to fund it got a veto.

PHOENIX — For nearly 40 years, every purchase made in Maricopa County added a little money to help pay for our infrastructure.

However, soon that money could dry up.

Earlier this month, Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed HB 2685, which would have allowed people in Maricopa County to decide if they wanted to extend a half-cent tax to help fund county transportation projects.

Proposition 300 first instituted a half-cent tax back in 1985. The tax was extended for another 20 years in 2004 with Proposition 400.

The two propositions have helped fund the construction of Loops 101, 202, and 303. Money has also helped extend bus routes and the light rail system throughout the Phoenix Metro area.

"It made sense for everyone throughout the Valley," Avondale mayor Kenn Weise, the chairman of the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), said.

However, Prop 400 is set to expire at the end of 2024. MAG worked with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to let voters decide on whether or not to extend the tax for 25 years.

"We are not talking about a new tax here," Weise said.

Under the current plan, the extension of the tax would bring in billions of dollars to improve Maricopa County's infrastructure. Including projects like:

RELATED: 'Went for a morning waddle': Ducks strolling on I-10 rescued by DPS

"We need these roadways. We need highway off ramps, we need mass transport," Weise said.

However, Ducey vetoed the legislation preventing the proposal from going before Arizona voters next Spring.

In his veto letter, Ducey laid out a myriad of reasons.

First, Ducey said because of record inflation, it was "not the time to ask Arizonans to tax themselves.”

Ducey claimed the proposal was not transparent nor responsible. In the letter, Ducey said the proposal's language was inflated, embellished, and failed to accurately reflect the tax burden on Arizonans.

Among other reasons, Ducey also said the plan was developed prior to the investment in infrastructure and jobs act and does not properly leverage state funds to pull down federal dollars.

“Voters are intelligent enough to look at the pros and cons and know if that’s what they want,” Weise said.

Weise said without extending the tax, pulling down federal money will get much harder.

The need for improvements is very real.

Maricopa County is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States. Weise said more expansion is needed in the state's highway system to keep pace with the growth.

Also, more than 50% of the county's highway system is older than its expected lifetime. Projections to replace the aging roads are between $1.6 and $3.2 billion.

So, what's next?

MAG will revisit its proposal to see if any improvements are needed.

However, Weise said they plan to try and get a similar proposal passed next year and have it on a ballot before the tax ends at the end of 2024.

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