Coronavirus fears lead O’Halleran to cancel town halls




U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran, D-Sedona. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran announced Tuesday that he has canceled two upcoming town halls in Arizona amid increasing coronavirus fears. 

The Sedona Democrat attributed the cancellations to growing concerns about the potential spread of the coronavirus, especially in large, indoor gatherings. The town halls were scheduled to be held in Flagstaff and Oro Valley over the next week. 

O’Halleran said in a statement that the health and safety of his constituents are his number one priority and said he hopes he’s able to reschedule the town halls to a future date. 

“I am hoping to reschedule these town hall meetings and address the concerns of Arizona families directly as soon as large gatherings are no longer deemed a public health concern,” said O’Halleran. “I am deeply sorry for the inconvenience, but my first priority is the health and safety of my constituents.”

O’Halleran also announced that he has sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting additional information about his Coronavirus Task Force, including how Pence plans to provide care and funding for rural and medically underserved areas. 

“To guarantee that we are adequately addressing the spread of this virus and preventing public panic, we must ensure that our state, local, and tribal public health agencies are adequately connected to the federal agencies with jurisdiction over managing preparedness and response efforts for COVID-19,” O’Halleran said. 

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there are six coronavirus cases in the state with the number expected to rise over the next few days and weeks. 

Intel Corporation announced Tuesday that an employee who visited the Intel Chandler campus on a business trip has contacted coronavirus. It was also revealed on Monday that two Canadian passengers who flew from Sky Harbor Airport to Toronto last month tested positive for coronavirus.

Earlier this week, Arizona Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar placed himself under self-quarantine because he had “extended contact” with a person who has since been diagnosed with COVID-19. He wrote on Twitter Tuesday that he remains symptom-free and expects to end his quarantine Thursday.

O’Halleran’s decision to cancel his town halls comes as the coronavirus outbreak continues growing nationwide, leading to the cancellation of a series of events around the country including concerts, conferences, and political rallies. 

Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden both canceled their rallies in Cleveland Tuesday in accordance with guidance from Ohio public officials, who cited concerns with large gatherings. 

As of Tuesday, there are 971 total coronavirus cases in the United States with 30 cases resulting in deaths. Nationwide, there are now close to 119,000 coronavirus cases resulting in 4,269 deaths.