This article is about the Covid Memorial Quilt exhibit at the Arizona Heritage Center in Tempe. The Arizona Heritage Center is a museum of the Arizona Historical Society. This article describes the quilt and the memorial event held on Monday, March 7, 2022. The event was sponsored in part by the non-profit group Marked by Covid which honors those who have died of Covid 19. Almost 28,000 Arizonans have died of Covid as of March 7th.
Arizona teachers have struggled with obtaining higher pay and better funding for years. Add to that a legislative body that doesn’t prioritize educational funding, improving teaching conditions or student learning. When Covid-19 reared its ugly head, the pressure public school teachers normally deal with in overcrowded, undersupplied classrooms intensified and – for many overworked teachers – this was the last straw. Teachers who were in a position to took early retirement. Others simply left the profession for the private sector. Still, some remained and adapted to whatever model of learning their school district employed – sometimes on a week-to-week basis. Now that most schools have returned to an in-person modality, teachers are still leaving the classroom. This article sheds lights on the teacher shortage and how, even still, Arizona educators are contending with Covid-19 in their classrooms and families, leading them to reconsider their decision to stay in education.
The photos are from the Drive-Thru Graduation Ceremony at Bostrom High School in Phoenix, Arizona. To have a graduation ceremony for the 2020 graduates, the high school put on a socially-distant commencement where parents and families could show their support from their cars. These images show the creative lengths that school staff, district staff, and parents went to give 2020 graduates a celebration that they deserve. In 2020, all people made some level of sacrifice, and the photos are an example of how communities worked together so that students did not have to lose another milestone in their lives.
I spoke to Sam at the Arizona Historical Society's 2nd annual Covid Remembrance Event. Sam was with his son, Alex. Alex did not wish to be interviewed but he gave permission to have his health information included in the interview. He was present during the interview.
Sam describes his family life during the initial lockdown, how he kept working at the hospital but his wife and son stayed home. Sam called himself the "hunter gatherer" during that time as he was the one getting groceries and running errands. He describes how he got the first dose of his vaccine but also got infected with COVID at the same time. His symptoms were mild, but his son and wife had different experience.
Sam describes losing his wife to Covid. He also describes how he has dealt with his grief and anger by joining a support group and Marked By Covid group. He shares his story as a way to honor his wife.
At the Arizona Historical Society's 2nd annual Covid Memorial event, I spoke with Rose and recorded her story about losing her brother, John, to Covid. Rose describes the challenges she faced being far away from her brother as he was diagnosed and then ill. She currently has her brother's dog, Emma, and is trying to re-home her according to her brother's wishes. Rose describes how her last communication with her brother was a text for help.
After the recording was turned off and we were walking out, she described how she felt when she was parked and walking to the hospital to say goodbye to her brother she saw anti-mask protestors at Central and Thomas Road. She was so sad and angry that these people were arguing against something that might save lives. She said that she couldn't argue with them and just wished them good health and walked away.
This link goes to an Anderson Cooper interview with Eddie Case, an Arizona man infected with Covid, placed on a ventilator and respirator then placed in a medically induced coma for 20 days. When he woke he had no idea why he was in the hospital. I met Eddie Case yesterday when he shared his COVID Story with me at the Arizona Historical Society's Marked by Covid memorial event. His story is in the archive as well. The interview originally aired on July 16, 2020.
[curator's note] I recorded this interview at the Arizona Historical Society's 2nd Annual Covid Memorial Event at the Arizona Heritage Center. Eddie spoke about his experience as one of the first cases of Covid in Arizona, and his illness and long recovery. He views his story as a blessing.
A pink disposable mask on ASU’s campus near Coor.
Mask trash by the parking lot at Nozomi Park.
Mask trash by the parking lot at Nozomi Park.
Thomas Backus of Tempe Arizona reflects on what life was like when the COVID 19 hit and how it impacted his life.
A blog post from Banner Health about helping children take a Covid-19 test
A blog post from Banner Health about helping children during Covid-19.
A blog post from Banner Health about managing stress and anxiety during Covid-19.
A blog post from Banner Health about post-partum depression during Covid-19.
Where do I even start? Covid, the pandemic, vaccines, quarantine, and masks have become such a normal thing for me now. To think only 2 years ago I had never even heard of Coronavirus or a pandemic. I remember it all started right before spring break in my 6th-grade year. The teachers were telling us that spring break might last a bit longer than normal, but of course, no one was listening and no one cared. Then all of a sudden it started. The beginning of the quarantine was nice. People didn't see the reality of the situation we were in. I was happy because it was like an extended vacation. I picked up hobbies and spent more time with my parents and brother. But then more and more time started passing without things going back to the way they were. Everyone I knew, myself included, started getting cabin fever. So much free time and nothing to do. I couldn't see my friends, travel, or go anywhere besides the grocery store. I got really lonely at this time. I didn't do really anything for about a year. In the second year, things started getting a bit better. I think this might have been when online school started. Online school was hard. I had to wake up every day and go to class after class. I couldn't do anything hands-on
and even though they were trying, it was becoming increasingly hard to pay attention to my teachers. I had so many distractions. My zoom meetings and homework became a bore. I sat at a computer by myself in my room for around 11 hours a day. Time became non-existent for me. All I knew was get up, sit through 7 zoom meetings a day, do my homework, and sleep. I never kept track of the month or day. Plus, there were all those major events like the capitol riots, George Floyd, the protests, Black Lives Matter, the death of Kobe Bryant, murder hornets, and many others. But eventually, the horizon cleared a little and I could start doing some things again. I could actually see my friends in person (with precautions). From there things got better. The vaccines came out. School started in person again. And now here we are. Now I'm 2 years older and my life has been completely changed. The pandemic has affected me and the people I love in so many ways. But it's not all bad and we are closer to things being back to normal. These past two years were crazy, but they did benefit me in some ways. I'm closer with my family, and I appreciate the little things more. It's undeniable that I'm a completely different person than I was before this all happened, but I like to think I've changed to be a better person and all of this has helped me grow. I can't wait to see how this all ends, and I await the day everything will go back to normal.
A blog post from Banner Health about risks associated with gathering.
A blog post from Banner Health about the long-term effects Covid-19 can have on the lungs.
A blog post from Banner Health about risks associated with gathering.
A blog post form Banner Health about safety risks.
A blog post from Banner Health discussing guidelines about outside activities.
A blog post from Banner Health on how to safely dispose of and store medications.
A blog post from Banner Health on managing the urge to emotionally eat.
A blog post from Banner Health discussing the importance of well-child visits, even during COVID restrictions.
A blog post from Banner Health on how to take charge of your own healthcare.
A blog post from Banner Health discussing the benefits of telehealth visits.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona State Legislature have attempted to make it illegal for school districts to require face masks. Tucson Unified School District's school board voted for a mask mandate in defiance of this. Other Arizona districts followed, risking the withholding of COVID relief funds that the governor is refusing to disburse to any district with a mask mandate. A judge later ruled that the law was invalid and schools could have a mask mandate. As someone with children who are in school but are too young to receive a vaccine yet, I hope districts continue to require face masks for the safety of the students and staff.
The Arizona Daily Star published a story about TUSD's decision.
TEXT OF ARTICLE:
Tucson Unified School District is requiring all staffers, students and visitors to wear masks at all its school sites when the school year begins on Thursday, Aug. 5.
The TUSD decision defies a new state law that bans public schools from issuing mask mandates.
“While Gov. (Doug) Ducey and the state Legislature has decided to ignore the advice of our public health experts and endanger our community, we can’t sit idle and watch COVID inevitably spread throughout our schools and devastate so many TUSD families,” said board member Ravi Grivois-Shah during an emergency Governing Board meeting Wednesday morning. “This is why I will support, along with my colleagues, a requirement to have masks on TUSD campuses and authorize TUSD to enforce this.”
The board passed the measure 4-0. Board President Leila Counts was not present for the vote.
Masking in schools is an important mitigation measure to slow the spread of COVID-19, and especially the new delta variant, health agencies at the county, state and federal level all say.
This week, with Tucson classrooms back at capacity, as nearly 140,000 children across Pima County are returning to classrooms in person, indoor masking is one of the remaining virus mitigation measures schools have left. Social distancing is problematic at most school sites because of large class sizes, and there’s a state ban on a vaccine mandate. Further, a vaccine is unavailable to anyone younger than 12 years old.
Between July 20 and Aug. 2, there were 102 virus cases in Pima County schools and 11 outbreaks, according to data from the Health Department. Those figures occurred when most schools here were not yet open.
At the end of July, cases in schools accounted for about 8% of the Pima County’s total reported cases, compared to 4% of total cases during last school year — when masks were required. The county also has seen an increase in pediatric admissions and ER visits in children over the last two weeks of July.
Vail Unified is the only Tucson school district that has been open for two weeks. Without a mask mandate, the district has 57 current COVID-19 cases in students and 12 in staff workers.
The county Health Department has already temporarily closed three Vail classrooms and told staffers and students to quarantine.
“Last year, schools had a number of tools that are no longer available,” said Vail Superintendent John Carruth. “They had the ability to do hybrid learning with smaller class sizes, require face coverings and close classrooms if needed. This year, Vail has two instructional options for families — fully in person and fully remote. With all of our teachers assigned to in-person or fully remote instruction, we are leaning on structures we built last year to support students when (the Health Department) requires them to quarantine.”
And while some parents, especially those with children not old enough to be vaccinated, fear for their children’s safety in a packed classroom with unmasked people, other parents are staunchly against mask mandates, saying it is unnecessary and even harmful.
In an informal survey by the Arizona Daily Star, with 180 participants two weeks ago when the COVID-19 numbers were lower, less than a third of respondents said masks should be optional, in line with the new state law. The other two-thirds said masks should be required or schools should at least have the option to require them.
TUSD, with about 42,000 students, follows at least two other school districts in the state, the Phoenix Union High and Phoenix Elementary school districts, in defying the governor and state Legislature by requiring masks.
A Phoenix Union teacher sued the district over the mandate, but a court hearing on the case that was set for Wednesday morning was postponed until next week.
Science teacher Douglas Hester filed a lawsuit against the Phoenix Union school district’s board members and superintendent on Aug. 2, saying the mandate is illegal and can’t be enforced. A hearing on the case is set for Aug. 13.
While most Tucson school districts are strongly recommending that students and staff wear masks indoors, most have also said they don’t intend on mandating masks, including Vail, Marana, Amphitheater, Sahuarita, Sunnyside and Tanque Verde.
TUSD Board Member Adelita Grijalva said the mask mandate is necessary for the following reasons: More children are getting sick from the new COVID variant; new evidence has shown that fully vaccinated people may still be able to transmit the virus; the delta variant appears to be more contagious than chickenpox; and many students in the district are too young to be vaccinated.
“Probably over 30% of our district cannot be vaccinated because of age,” she said. “I know my youngest can’t. I know many of our children cannot or their friends cannot, and so we have to do everything we can in the district to ensure their safety. That’s our No. 1 priority.”
The University of Arizona offered antibody testing in April and May 2020 to a limited number of community members. The goal was to get a better idea of how many people had already been infected with COVID without realizing it. I signed up for the test which was located at the new Arizona football practice field. This was my first time venturing out of the house since everything shut down and it was a surreal experience, being on campus but not seeing anyone walking around. The university is usually full of people with lots of energy. It was also uncomfortable being around people in the testing site because I had avoided being around anyone other than my immediate family since March.
The University of Arizona football achieved 100% vaccination rate at the beginning of the 2021 season, the highest in the Pac-12.
TEXT OF NEWS ARTICLE:
The Arizona football program is 100% vaccinated against COVID-19, the team announced Thursday. The rate includes players, coaches and other staffers.
First-year coach Jedd Fisch had made that a goal, and the team has achieved it. The UA is believed to be the only team in the Pac-12 to have reached 100%, with UCLA in second place at 98%.
During Arizona's media day earlier this month, Fisch revealed 115 of the Wildcats' 118 players were vaccinated — a 97.4% rate and a five-player improvement from the team's mark in July.
Other teams in the Pac-12 that are above the 90% threshold include Washington, Colorado, Utah, USC and Oregon. Oregon State (88%), Stanford (85%) and Washington State (80%) are behind the other Pac-12 programs, while Arizona State and Cal haven't disclosed their vaccination rates.
Ole Miss is another college football program with all of its personnel 100% vaccinated.
“We are proud to say our football program is 100% vaccinated,” the program posted via Twitter. “Our players, our staff and all who are affiliated with our program have worked very hard to accomplish this goal.
“We take our health very seriously, and we are committed to a 12-game season and beyond. We are also committed to staying healthy and are hopeful that campus can follow our lead.”
Dr. Christina Bergin shares a thread on Twitter after her child was exposed to COVID in the classroom. She provides a story about spending 18 months doing everything she could to not expose her family to COVID because of her work in a hospital, only to have her child exposed after three days of in-person learning at school. She addresses her tweets to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who (with the legislature) have attempted to prevent schools from instituting mask mandates and have threatened to withhold federal COVID relief funding that the state is supposed to disburse to Arizona school districts.
The University of Arizona ran a drive-thru and walk-up vaccine POD for six months in 2021. During that time they provided more than 240,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the Southern Arizona community. I volunteered at the POD for 10 shifts between February 2021 and May 2021, helping with traffic control to get as many cars safely through the stations, with observation to ensure everyone was okay after receiving their vaccine, and with registration to help get information all ready for the nurses giving the vaccine. It was great to be a part of the solution and helping people protect themselves and other community members. One woman, while waiting to get her shot, told me how excited she was to be able to hug her grandchildren again. She started crying because she was so relieved to see her family and feel safe doing it. It was a great atmosphere at the University of Arizona and everyone was working together for each other. Something I will never forget and that I'm proud to have been a part of. The photo is from my first shift in the observation area on the Mall, waiting for the POD to open and line cars up for observation post-vaccine.
A disposable mask was discarded/lost by the bike rack near the COOR building on campus.
Mask trash near the pick up-drop off at Forest Ave on ASU's campus.
A white, disposable mask on the ground outside Tops Liquor.
I took my daughter to play tennis at 5:00 PM. When we left at 6:00, this disposable mask had made its way to the ground, right by the entrance to the tennis courts.
This photograph is part of the mask trash series.
Mask trash has become so common over a year into the pandemic. This one was found on a bench in SanTan Village mall in Gilbert, Arizona.
A blog post from Banner Health about staying safe as restrictions ease.
A blog post from Banner Health about fevers, including fevers associated with Covid-19.
A blog post from Banner Health about being productibe during the pandmic.
A blog post from Banner Health about Medical Insurance.
A blog post from Banner Health about the risks and safety of exercising outside during the pandemic.
A blog post from Banner Health about the safety of takeout and food delivery and Covid-19.
A blog post from Banner Health about the antibody test available for Covid-19.
A blog post from Banner Health on how to care for someone with Alzheimer's Disease during the pandmeic.
A blog post from Banner Health on the risks of Valley Fever and the chances of coming down with both Valley Fever and Covid-19.
A blog post from Banner Health on how to keep elderly family members safe
A blog post from Banner Health discussing the importance of face coverings.
A blog post from Banner Health offering suggestions on maintaining a positive attitude during the pandemic.
A blog post from Banner Health offering suggestions on managing grief.
A blog post from Banner Health about home made disinfectants