The COVID-19 pandemic that started in China landed last week in the West Valley.
Announcements of positive testings or potential exposure to the coronavirus in Buckeye, Goodyear and Tolleson came last week, as county and state reports of positive tests increased significantly. Maricopa County started last week with nine positive COVID-19 cases; the number grew to 139 Monday, March 23.
The first West Valley news of a potential exposure came when the Goodwill store in Buckeye on Wednesday, March 18, announced it was temporarily closing after someone in the store “was potentially exposed to the coronavirus.”
The Goodwill store in Buckeye reopened Friday, after “a thorough sanitization,” said Courtney Nelson, Goodwill’s vice president of communications.
Later on March 18, the city of Goodyear said it was informed that a Cincinnati Reds employee tested positive for COVID-19. “The employee works out of the Reds Training Complex in Goodyear, which is a separate facility from the Goodyear Ballpark where spring training games take place and had very limited interaction with the public,” said Tammy Vo, a Goodyear spokeswoman.
She said that “as a precautionary measure,” the Reds were reaching out to those who were inside the team’s building between Feb. 29 and March 14. “The employee is being quarantined. Team staff who came in close contact with this employee are being tested and have also self-quarantined,” Vo said.
The Reds facility is next to Goodyear Ballpark. Vo said she did not know if the employee who tested positive spent time at the Goodyear Ballpark.
The city of Tolleson tweeted Friday, March 20, that a city employee tested positive for COVID-19.
The employee does not live in Tolleson and has not been in the city since Feb. 20, according to the tweet.
A day prior to Gov. Doug Ducey’s March 19 order closing bars and requiring restaurants to only offer takeout or delivery service, Tolleson Mayor Anna Tovar banned dine-in eating in Tolleson. Litchfield Park Mayor Thomas Schoaf did the same for his city.
The mayors of Tolleson, Litchfield Park, Buckeye, Avondale and Goodyear made emergency declarations last week.
The actions primarily were made for cities to be eligible for federal funding reimbursement in the future.
Most of the pronouncements reinforced current laws and guidelines.
“I do hereby proclaim a local disaster to exist in Buckeye and urge all of our citizens to take the necessary precautions and to follow the guidance and directives of government officials to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the city of Buckeye,” Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck declared.
Avondale Mayor Kenn Weise proclaimed, “Avondale is joining cities around the Valley to ensure that we’re following guidelines set by the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Maricopa County Department of Public Health to protect the safety of our community and residents.”
Similarly, Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord’s order required “all citizens and businesses to obey the law and cooperate with public officials in the effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Maricopa County Department of Health and the Arizona State Department of Health Services.”
Despite the declarations, West Valley mayors remained optimistic.
“Please know that we are all in this together, and that we will do our utmost to help our local businesses weather this crisis,” said Weise.
“I have faith in our residents to help one another, and confidence that our businesses are doing everything they can to protect their employees, and our community,” said Lord. “We’ve been through tough times before, and we will bounce back stronger than ever.”