By The Arizona Republic
Many cities across metro Phoenix are canceling city-sponsored events, shutting down senior centers and recommending that festivals and other large gatherings be postponed to mitigate the spread of new coronavirus, though the state is still considered a low risk for community spread.
Tempe on Friday was the first Valley city to announce it would hold City Council meetings without the public physically there.
The city, in a statement, said the move should not violate Arizona Open Meeting Law, citing an informal opinion issued Friday by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, which said public bodies can conduct public meetings remotely “through technological means.”
Tempe will provide online and phone options for public participation in the meetings that are streamed online and televised on Tempe 11.
Other municipalities, from Buckeye to Gilbert, are encouraging social distancing by canceling or postponing concerts, classes and programs and community sports leagues through April.
Beginning Monday, Phoenix City Hall will only be open for essential business, and the city is determining whether some employees can telecommute.
Cities also are upping cleaning efforts and encouraging residents to use city services online, by phone or email instead of going to city offices to minimize interactions.
Local officials are looking to their fire departments, regional and state health agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for guidance on how to slow transmission and protect their communities from the virus also called COVID-19.
The Arizona Department of Health Services has said community spread of the virus is minimal and has not recommended canceling mass gatherings, according to the department’s website.
As of March 13, the outbreak had infected more than 140,000 people and killed more than 5,000 people globally, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
Thenumber of presumptive positive and confirmed cases of new coronavirus in Arizona hit 12 on Saturday, and testing is increasing.
Here’s a city-by-city look at the response: