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COVID-19 Hotspot: Pima County issues warning for apartments near UArizona

Owners could face lawsuits for failing to comply
Posted at 10:30 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 01:48:38-04

TUCSON, Ariz.  — Pima County has issued a stern warning to apartment complexes near the University of Arizona after a COVID-19 outbreak at student high rises.

Those complexes must follow rules or possibly face a lawsuit.

Tucson city councilman Steve Kozachik sounded the alarm to the public.

He reported 86 positive cases in two student towers, Hub at Tucson and Olive.

The Pima County Health Department calls it an urgent situation.

Steve Kozachik explains the issue:

"Quite honestly, the corporate irresponsibility was stunning," Kozachik said. "They have leased up to 90% capacity. They've opened their pools and fitness centers and the common areas."

Kozachik said the area has become a major COVID-19 hotspot.

"We've had students report to us that once they get in the elevators of these places all the masks come off," Kozachik said. "We've had students come back and say I know exactly who I got Covid from some other resident in this place and they don't want to go through the 14-day quarantine even through they know they're symptomatic."

The hotspot covers a square area between 6th Avenue, Cambell Avenue, 10th street and Helen Street.

"They have identified the area of the towers as being an areas of a transmissability rate north of 3, which means one person is infecting 3 others," Kozachik said.

So the Pima County Health Department brought down the hammer Thursday with the details in a letter to a n apartment complex sitting in the hot spot.

It states all apartment buildings in the area that have more than 10 residents must follow these rules for 14 days. They are to close pools, spas, recreation and fitness rooms, as well as prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people.

Failure to comply could lead to being slapped with a lawsuit.

Kozachik has been critical of how the owners of the student towers have responded to the outbreak.

"This is going to continue to explode and Hub and Luna and Aspire and all places over there ought to recognize that just as the assisted living centers were hot spot several months ago," Kozachik said. "We had to get our arms around that today those students housing towers are the hot spot and they ought to be inviting us in to give us a real idea what the data are."

KGUN 9 reached out to Core Spaces, the owners of the student housing high rises.

They say the company is looking forward to continuing to work directly with the Pima County Health Department on the most expedient way to keep their residents and community safe.

The owners say actions include reducing capacity or closing common areas per state regulations and increased cleaning of all common touch points.