Phoenix City Council discusses essential services during COVID-19

Phoenix City Council discussed the list of businesses and services being considered essential by Arizona Gov. Ducey’s March 23 executive order in a policy session March 30.

“I personally am deeply disappointed in the executive order…it does not send the strongest message about social distancing,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said. “We know that social distancing and testing save lives and we do not have enough testing in Arizona and now we have one of the weakest executive orders of any governor in the country.”

Everyone at the meeting practiced safe social distancing by keeping at least six feet between each other and there were some members attending the meeting virtually instead of in person.

Government Relations Director Frank McCune and Managers Clark Princell and Yesenia Dhott gave an update on federal and state COVID-19 relief packages.

When the topic of public parks and hiking trails came up, some council members believed the trails should be closed while others thought that they should be left open. Some members such as District Six Councilmember Sal DiCiccio said that it is good for the public’s mental health to not close the trails and that a lot of the public would not like this.

People that could not want the trails shut down are the ones that are still going outside for running, walking on the trails and doing outdoor activities.

According to Phoenix Parks and Recreation Director Inger Erickson, the city has already taken action to limit how many people can be on hiking trails. There was limited parking at some hiking areas and there was about a 50 percent decrease in the amount of people who were there.

The global pandemic is the main concern for the council right now. COVID-19 is spreading very quickly throughout the United States. There are 486,490 cases in the U.S. as of April 10 according to John Hopkins University’s Coronavirus resource center. There are 3,112 cases in Arizona as of April 10, according to the Arizona Department of Health Service’s daily report.

The mayor and members of the council do not want that number to go any higher so they are having these meetings to discuss what can be done to help citizens. Whether it is payment assistance with bills or preventing the disease from spreading.

“I just think we have to advocate for relief all across the board of all of our programs. We’re going to need relief no matter what” District Four Councilmember Laura Pastor said.

The mayor, council members and all the others that attended want to ensure the safety of the citizens and make sure they are doing everything they can to help everybody out including the homeless and small businesses.