Residential evictions moratorium extended; school decision pending

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Screen shot: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey takes questions from reporters during today’s coronavirus briefing.

Arizona families who rent their homes or apartments will be relieved to hear that the current moratorium on residential evictions will be extended through Oct. 31. Gov. Doug Ducey made the announcement during today’s coronavirus briefing.

To qualify, eligible renters must notify their landlord or property owner of a COVID-19 hardship in writing, and request a payment plan. After Aug. 21, renters must also provide a copy of their completed pending application for rental assistance through a state, city, county or nonprofit program.

On the pressing question of education, no additional clarity was provided. The governor recently postponed the start of in-classroom instruction until Aug. 17. However, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman has questioned the practicality of that date as our state has recently experienced unprecedented growth in corovavirus cases.

“Arizona will be open for learning in the coming school year,” Ducey said. “I have been visiting a lot with public K-12 leaders and leaders from our public universities to get input on best practices and what’s possible.” He said he will soon be meeting with Hoffman and other constituencies “to get the best guidance moving forward. I know people want clarity around this. We will be providing that.”

Answering a reporter’s question toward the end of the briefing, Ducey promised a report on the school start date next week. He said he personally has full confidence about sending his own children back to in-classroom instruction.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, echoed that conviction, saying the science indicates the risk of transmission in children is low, infections pose less risk to children, and “I have noticed some detrimental impacts from my kids not being in school and I really would like for them to be back in that social environment.”

On Thursday, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported that 134,613 people in Arizona have tested positive for coronavirus and 4,294 have died.

To date, more than 950,000 coronavirus tests have been conducted in Arizona. The positivity rate reported today is 24 percent.

“This is a challenge that’s going to be ongoing for the foreseeable future,” Ducey said. Physical distancing, frequent hand washing, staying home as much as possible and masking up while out in the public “are the things that are making a difference in our state,” he said, urging Arizonans to “press on, stay the course…you’re saving lives.”