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COVID-19 Coverage

Arizona COVID-19 Updates on Food Assistance, Face Masks and More

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Food assistance:
Arizona has received $9.8 million from the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program to provide food and nutrition assistance at no cost to low-income individuals, including seniors.
The dollars come from the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. According to Gov. Doug Ducey, $7.34 million of what the state is getting will be dedicated to purchasing food and $2.5 million will help regional food banks to store and distribute food to distribution sites.
Eligibility is available to households where the gross income does not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty level. That is $37,167 for a family of three.
Those seeking help need to provide photo identification and proof of address like a utility bill, though those who are homeless can identify the location where they stay at night.
There is no requirement for proof of income, with applicants instead required to sign a form that they meet the guidelines and that they will not sell or exchange the food they receive.

Hospital finances:
Arizona hospitals will be getting money faster from the state's Medicaid program.
In an announcement Wednesday, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System said it will provide $50 million in "accelerated hospital payments and advances.'' These involve supplemental payments to hospitals that participate in graduate medical education programs and operate trauma facilities.
According to a new release, some payments could be made this month, with additional dollars available in June, more than two months ahead of schedule.
The plan also will have Arizona use it's increase in federal matching dollars to provide an additional $5.3 million this month to "critical access hospitals.'' These are defined as rural acute care facilities located more than a 35-mile drive from any other hospital.

Online notaries:
Arizonans will be able to get documents notarized on line sooner than expected.
In an executive order Wednesday, Gov. Doug Ducey agreed to allow for the use of "remote online notarization'' effective this Friday as a valid witness of signatures on documents. That will help ensure that individuals needing signatures authenticated do not have to make in-person visits to a notary.
There are procedural requirements, including the use of audio-video technology and allowing the notary and signer to converse in real time as the signatures and tamper-proof seals are placed on electronic documents.
State lawmakers actually had approved the plan for online notaries last year. But it was not set to take effect until July 1.

Face masks:
The state Department of Transportation is giving 1,400 N95 respiratory masks to the Arizona State Veteran Home in Phoenix and another 1,200 to the Arizona Pioneers' Home in Prescott.
ADOT officials said they had purchased the personal protective equipment during a previous viral outbreak.  According to a press release the agency "quickly evaluated its inventory when learning of the current demand for the medical-grade masks.''
The Pioneers' Home was particularly mentioned after ADOT officials said they had only a few medical-grade masks for staff.
That facility provides care for anyone who is age 70, has been a resident of the state for at least 50 years and is physically and mentally able to care for himself or herself. It also provides care for for miners age 60 and up who are Arizona residents and suffered a job-related incapacitating injury or illness or be financially unable to support oneself.
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On Twitter: @azcapmedia