The coronavirus is affecting the entire world, including the town of Gilbert. Here are the Gilbert, Maricopa County and statewide updates that residents need to know.
This story will be frequently updated with outbreak-related news and links to other in-depth coverage.
The number of COVID-19 cases reported March 29 in Maricopa County is 546, up 94 from the 452 the previous day and up 147 from 399 on Friday. The number of deaths held steady at five.
State budget passed
Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bipartisan state budget agreement March 28. It adds $50 million to the budget for COVID-19 response.
Updated March 27 9:40 p.m.
Spence stops canvassing
Newly appointed Town Council Member Bill Spence announced the night of March 27 that he has suspended signature-gathering for the Aug. 4 election because of the coronavirus situation.
“As your Councilmember, I took an oath to act in the best interest of the residents of our town,” Spence wrote on a Facebook post where he announced the move. “Due to the risk of spreading COVID-19, I feel that the practice of having a buffer presents an unacceptable risk to the residents of Gilbert.”
Spence said he has the required 1,000 signatures but is not sure how much of a buffer over 1,000 he has to qualify for the ballot. Once he collects the nominating petitions he has in the field, he will submit them. Petitions are due 5 p.m. April 6.
He said he will not challenge any opponent’s signatures.
“I want to support our mayor, and the election just isn’t the priority for me right now,” Spence said in a text message March 27. “My friends and neighbors need me to do my job.”
Spence was appointed March 17 to the seat Eddie Cook vacated when he became Maricopa County assessor. He was sworn in March 24. The appointment lasts through the end of the year.
The remaining two years of Cook’s term will be filled in the August election. Spence filed a Statement of Interest in that election Feb. 24 and began collecting the required 1,000 signatures.
The mayoral position and two four-year council seats also will be up for election in August.
Updated March 27 7 p.m.
Park amenities closing
Gilbert has announced it is closing its public park amenities and all of Gilbert Regional Park. More information is available here.
No supply shortage
In her video message for March 27, Mayor Jenn Daniels said there is no supply shortage in the community.
“We are hearing that of the supplies are still being transported and how important that is,” she said. “But it does take time to restock shelves.”
GPS teachers available in remote learning
When remote learning begins March 30, Gilbert Public Schools teachers at all grade levels will be available for remote contact with students during regular school hours to clarify content and answer questions, according to the district.
Teachers have been instructed to plan short, manageable lessons that include independent and collaborative learning opportunities, the district said.
Content will be delivered through a variety of platforms, including Google Classroom. Teachers, including Special Education and ELL specialists, will identify accommodations and modifications to support student learning within a remote environment.
Aid legislation signed
Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation to expand access to unemployment benefits and legislation to support schools, teachers and families.Details on the legislation can be found at https://azgovernor.gov.
Updated March 27 11:10 a.m.
Housing department eviction program
The Arizona Department of Housing will launch a $5 million program to help individuals facing eviction because of COVID-19, Gov. Doug Ducey announced March 27.
The Rental Eviction Prevention Assistance Program will give monthly rental assistance to families and individuals who have lost income due to COVID-19.
The assistance is available to those whose primary residence is a rental unit in Arizona.
To qualify, a household must have seen a reduction in income due to COVID-19 that, when annualized, does not exceed 100% of the area median income adjusted for family size for the their county of residence.
The program will begin March 30 through an online application at www.azhousing.gov. Those who do not have computer access can call Maricopa County Human Services at 602-506-5911 to start an application by phone.
The Arizona State Housing Trust Fund provided $5 million in initial program funding.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Maricopa County is now 399, up 100 from 299 the previous day.
Information from March 24-26 can be found here.
Information from March 20-23 can be found here.
Information from March 16-20 can be found here.
Community Impact Newspaper Editor Alexa D'Angelo contributed to this report.