PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Gov. Doug Ducey announced on Thursday he is extending his executive order to protect renters during the coronavirus pandemic until Oct. 31. Also included in the extension includes $650,000 for community agencies and $5 million to establish a foreclosure prevention program. The governor's office said more than $80 million will be available to assist renters and prevent homelessness.

“Today’s plan protects families and individuals impacted by COVID-19 while empowering them to keep making rent payments,” said Ducey.

The executive order was originally set to expire on July 22. It was supposed to ensure people wouldn’t lose their homes if they got COVID-19 or lost their jobs during pandemic restrictions. To stave off eviction, tenants will have to show proof that they were affected by the pandemic or took steps to contain the spread of the virus. Starting Aug. 21, they’ll also have to show they’ve applied for rental assistance.

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Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at a news conference on Thursday.

Effects of Wearing a Mask

Gov. Ducey also highlighted the good actions Arizonans are doing to stop the spread of the coronavirus during a news conference on Thursday. He also made no changes to the date of schools reopening.

"Today, we see the first evidence of the trend heading into the right direction," Ducey told reporters.

Some of the numbers are a mixed bag. The number of COVID-like illnesses in emergency rooms and the percentages of positive tests are both down. However, the numbers of COVID-19 patients in the ICU and using hospital beds are up. However, he used graphics from several different sources to show the coronavirus pandemic is easing in Arizona. Ducey first showed several New York Times graphics that showed the number of cases in which Arizona is slowing down. A CNN graphic showed Arizona COVID-19 cases are dropping between 10 and 50 percent compared to last week. A Johns Hopkins graphic showed Arizona is one of two states or territories that are seeing a three-day drop in cases. The use of national media comes more than a week after the governor's office criticized the New York Times for an article that said Arizona had the fastest confirmed spread of the coronavirus in the world.

Ducey's office calls New York Times' article on coronavirus in Arizona 'misleading'

The news comes as the daily number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona held steady for a second day, state health officials reported. Ducey said the possible flattening of the curve should be viewed with caution.

“There will be no victory laps,” Ducey said. “What we can take from here is knowledge of what a difference we can make in the COVID-19 pandemic in our state, in our country for the foreseeable future.”

The governor praised Arizonans for wearing masks and pointed to the fact that about 90 percent of local areas have mandatory mask policies.

"I have asked for your help. People have responded. I am grateful. What you are doing is saving lives, protecting people, and lightening a load for a heavy load for our health care workers," Ducey said.

To help get more Arizonans to wear masks, some can get them for free. Starting July 17, Arizonans 65 and older or medically vulnerable can get free masks. They can sign up at azhealth.gov/ordermasks.

No School Return Update

Ducey said he would wait till next week to give an update on schools reopening. Schools are expected to start in some capacity by Aug. 17. Teachers and school staff across the state have called for delays until the number of COVID-19 cases decreases. The governor has been in continuing discussions with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and school leaders.

 

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