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Tempe opens new cooling center during COVID-19 pandemic

Post Date:05/20/2020 2:00 PM

The City of Tempe opened the Cahill Cooling Center this week to provide a heat relief option to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the pandemic, the region’s heat relief centers, hydration stations and heat refuge locations are severely limited. In Tempe, city facilities such as the Tempe Public Library and Parks and Recreation centers that typically serve as a heat refuge are currently closed.

The city does not usually operate a designated cooling center during the summer but recognized the need for this COVID-specific response as 100-degree temperatures began arriving quickly.

“Many of the places people normally go to cool off and find relief are just not available right now and may not be for some time,” said Mayor Mark Mitchell. “For people who have inadequate air conditioning or who are living outdoors, this lack of options can be deadly. The Cahill Cooling Center fills a vital gap in resources for our community during this time.”

The cooling center opened May 18 inside the Cahill Senior Center, 715 W. 5th St.  The center is open daily 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Details of the center include:

  • Trained staff are onsite at all times
  • All patrons must undergo health screenings before entering
  • Patrons who do not pass the screening may not enter and will be referred to the city’s CARE 7 crises response team and community resources for guidance
  • Masks are required and provided as needed
  • Physical distancing is being enforced
  • Unaccompanied minors are not allowed

In addition, a CARE 7 counseling intern will be available as a resource for referrals.

Cahill is strictly operating as a cooling center. No Parks and Recreation programming is available at this time.

A heat relief center operated by The Salvation Army at 40 E. University Dr. is also open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on days with excessive heat warnings.

Beyond the Cahill effort, the city is working to ensure that individuals and families in need are staying hydrated. The city’s HOPE homeless outreach team, CARE 7 crisis response team, Tempe park police and Tempe Park and Recreation monitors are distributing bottled water.  The HOPE and CARE 7 teams also continue to engage individuals in housing and social services.

Resources about getting help with utility bills, emergency air-conditioning repair and more can be found at Tempe.gov/HeatRelief.

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