Memorial Day Travel Plans? Know Before You Go (and don’t go to Show Low)

By Ed Kimble

It’s almost hardwired into the American psyche to begin summer with a Memorial Day road trip to a beach, a lake, or someplace rustic to start the season with rest, relaxation, and mischief. Now that Arizona’s COVID-19 stay at home orders have been lifted, how can you resist the temptation to hit the road?

Okay, sure, but don’t stop in Show Low. Or Yuma. Or El Centro, CA. These may not be tourism hotspots, but they remain active COVID-19 hotspots where infection rates are multiples of Tucson’s. Show Low, in Navajo County adjacent to summer get away havens Pinetop and Lakeside, has had 1,285 cases for an infection rate of 11.63 per 100k residents. In contrast, Tucson has had 1,825 cases for an infection rate of only 1.76 cases per 100k residents.

Know before you go by checking the latest infection rates and trends for your destination and the places you need to go through on the way by checking this New York Times data analyzer. For instance, if you are heading to San Diego for some beach weather, you can see that it has about the same infection rate at Tucson at 1.8 per 100k residents. But to drive there, you go through Yuma, AZ, which has the third fastest daily increase of cases in the country this week!!

Whether you leave town or stay home for the holiday, social distancing is still extremely important. What’s the big deal? Visual Capitalist explains the math behind social distancing in a stunning graphic that shows what can happen if an infected person ignores social distancing guidelines 25% of the time, 50% of the time or all the time. With no social distancing, one infected person can cause 406 other people to become infected in 30 days!!

If you are infected, odds are you won’t have symptoms, but you can still infect someone vulnerable to the disease, with devastating results. Even very old people who become infected with COVID-19 are unlikely to develop serious symptoms, with as many as 50% remaining asymptomatic, according to this report from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

But long term care facilities account for huge percentages of COVID-19 cases and deaths around the country. This week, the Maricopa Department of Health reported that 70% of COVID-19 deaths in the Phoenix area were residents of long-term care facilities.

For more insight into Arizona’s pandemic news, check out the Vitalyst Spark podcast from Vitalyst Health Foundation.

With COVID-19 affecting older adults more than any other group, ageism is rearing its ugly head in uglier ways than we could ever imagine. If the social media hashtag #boomerremover doesn’t make you shiver a little bit, this piece by Next Avenue should wake you up.

The Tucson LGBT Chamber of Commerce is taking May as Mental Health Month seriously with a series of social media messages reminding us all that 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, and everyone faces challenges that can affect our mental health, especially those of us affected by homophobia. Tucson LGBT Chamber President John Jackson Moyer (“Jax”) courageously shared his story in this YouTube video.

The mental health toll of COVID-19 is expected to be the next wave of the pandemic, in large part because of the high anxiety caused by the stark economic effects caused by lockdowns. reported this week that 92% of rent relief funds have not yet been disbursed to Arizona renters. If you need help with rent or other financial relief, the state’s website Arizona Together is still your first place to turn online for the information and links for the help you need.

Meanwhile, you can get a free gourmet meal to make your weekend more pleasant in these hard times thanks to Sol Food Kitchen. Text SOLFOOD to 833-579-0991 and follow the prompts for this weekend’s menu and delivery options.

Fido or Fluffy need to eat, too, and if you’re running short of cash you can stock up on pet food at the Humane Society of Southern AZ’s next FREE pet food distribution will be Sunday, June 7, from 8-10am at 635 W Roger Road.