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Agencies and departments

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Governor’s Office- While the Governor’s Office is technically allowing its employees to telecommute if necessary, one staffer told the Yellow Sheet Report that only one person from Gov. Doug Ducey’s office is working from home, a younger woman with previous health complications. The rest are working at the office while following guidelines from the Arizona Department of Health Services on office hygiene. The source said the possibility of more or most of the staff working remotely is “not something we’re contemplating at this time.” According to an email written by Daniel Ruiz, Ducey’s Chief Operating Officer, which Yellow Sheet obtained, employees can ask their manager to figure out what works best for them and utilize the “relax[ed]” telework policies for those who can work at home. Ruiz said in the email that the state is also waiving copays for telemedicine on health care plans for state employees. 

Executive Orders- Ducey has issued 12 executive orders, relating to COVID-19, to date. One to close bars, gyms and movie theaters in counties with confirmed cases of COVID-19, all 15 counties became affected as of March 30. Another delays drivers license expiration dates by six months, a third halts all elective surgeries. Ducey also listed which businesses he deems are “essential” and can remain open, which includes golf courses and payday lenders. He ordered a delay on evictions until July 22. The governor also issued orders to expand telemedicine coverage for all services, for hospitals to increase their bed capacity and plan how to better use on-hand staff and resources, and on March 30 he issued a “stay at home” order that still allows anyone to utilize and participate in “essential activities” and no one will have to prove or justify what they’re doing outside their house when questioned by police. People who violate the order, except those experiencing homelssness, could be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor if they do not comply after they’re informed of the order. The order is in effect until April 30. 

Secretary of State’s Office- The Secretary of State’s Office is temporarily suspending all in-person services, while maintaining its constitutional and statutory responsibilities. The office was able to successfully run the Presidential Preference Election on March 17 and is next looking forward to receiving the signature sheets for candidates seeking office. They are due by April 6. 

Arizona Attorney General’s Office- Since Gov. Doug Ducey declared a state of emergency, Attorney General Mark Brnovich has filed numerous lawsuits to keep businesses and other state agencies in check. When Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes suggested he’d send out ballots through the mail for the presidential preference election, Brnovich prevented it from happening. Brnovich has since reminded Arizona employees of their rights during the pandemic which included mandatory paid sick leave, childcare during school closures and provided health care. In addition, Brnovich has warned businesses that they will face consequences if they use COVID-19 as a reason to raise prices or further violate the Consumer Fraud Act. Brnovich also joined with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in warning seniors against scams like fake cures, government imposter calls and sanitization services. His most recent opinion says that state government can share non-identifying information about people who test positive for the virus in order to stop its spread. 

Arizona Department of Education- On March 19, the Department of Education said it has an option for some employees to work remotely. “The department has about 640 employees, but we don’t have a count of how many are currently telecommuting,” department spokeswoman Morgan Dick said. She said the Adult Education Services department has moved fully online, though. Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced March 30 public schools will be closed the remainder of the school year. 

Arizona Supreme Court- Aaron Nash, spokesman for the Arizona Supreme Court, said all staff has been properly trained on teleworking, but that each division decides who teleworks and when. They take into account social distancing, available equipment and work duties, he said. “When the nature of someone’s work doesn’t allow teleworking, those individuals are working onsite in locations that take into account social distancing,” Nash told Yellow Sheet Report

Arizona Superior Courts- There are constant updates with what each individual trial court has done regarding hearings and general information to help combat COVID-19. Trials are either being canceled or postponed and as of March 25, all courts in Maricopa County are prohibiting physical access to all court buildings through April 8, with exceptions. 

Arizona Corporation Commission-  A spokeswoman for the commission said roughly 50% of the agency teleworked for a portion of the time between March 9 and March 20. The commission also suspended all in-person services as of March 24. 

Arizona Department of Administration- As of March 19, the Department of Administration encouraged state agency employees to work from home if they’re sick or if they have to care for their child who would normally be at school, though the department couldn’t say how many employees are taking advantage of that. 

Arizona Department of Economic Security- On March 20, Ducey appointed Tom Betlach as interim director for 75 days, allowing the interim director, Cara Christ, to focus on her main job as director of the Department of Health Services. On March 22, Ducey allocated $2 million from DES for the state to contract with the Crisis Response Center to run a 2-1-1 service to provide information on COVID-19. On March 24, it was revealed that DES had received roughly 30,000 unemployment claims from the previous week alone. 

Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Re-entry- As of March 23, the Department of Corrections said it was testing six inmates for COVID-19, but results were still not known on March 29. The department has also taken necessary precautions to defend against the spread. They have suspended visitation, check inmates and staff for flu-like symptoms daily, and more

Arizona Department of Revenue- Following a recommendation from Gov. Doug Ducey, the Department of Revenue extended the deadline for filing and paying income taxes by two months to July 15. 

Universities- All three major universities canceled their in-person classes for the remainder of the spring semester as the coronavirus pandemic escalated to a national scale in early March. Students are responsible for completing online classes, preferably at home, as requested by the universities. On March 26, a class action lawsuit was filed in federal court against the Arizona Board of Regents requesting refunds for housing, room, board, tuition and other fees that would have been used for counseling, maintenance and athletics.

Here is the impact it has had on the 2020 election cycle.