October 2, 2020

News roundup: Trump taken to hospital, local and national campaigns brace for final month

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Oct. 2

Cases 219,763 | Deaths 5,693

On Friday, Oct. 2, the state reported 551 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 additional deaths. On Thursday, Oct. 1, President Donald Trump announced he had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

Trump, stricken by COVID-19, heads to military hospital


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump appeared in public Friday evening for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19 as he boarded Marine One for what was expected to be a stay of a “few days” at a military hospital. Members of the aircrew, Secret Service agents and White House staff wore face coverings to protect themselves from the president onboard the helicopter.

The White House said the visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was precautionary and that Trump would continue to work from the hospital’s presidential suite. Earlier Friday the White House said Trump remains “fatigued” and had been injected with an experimental antibody cocktail for the virus that has killed more than 205,000 Americans.

Learn more here.

Trump cancels plans for Arizona rallies after diagnosis


PHOENIX — President Donald Trump has canceled two rallies planned for next week in Arizona after contracting COVID-19. Trump's campaign announced Friday that all scheduled events will be postponed or switched to digital appearances.

The president had been scheduled to hold rallies in Tucson and Flagstaff on Monday and Tuesday as he looks to keep the longtime Republican stronghold of Arizona in his column.

Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have scheduled their first trip to Arizona on Thursday. Their campaign has not said where in the state they’ll appear or what sort of event they’ll hold. Biden traveled Friday to Michigan but pared back his schedule there.

Learn more here.

Pima County Board of Supervisors races could bring changes

The Buzz

Ten candidates are running for seats on the Pima County Board of Supervisors this fall. The board sets public policy for the county, making decisions on economic development, taxes, public health, roads, law enforcement and the county budget.

This week, The Buzz invites a panel of local voices to discuss policies of the current board, the candidates up for election, and what the near future for the county could hold.

Listen to the full episode here.

US Senate race, debate preview, the Electoral College

Arizona 360

In one of the country’s most closely watched races for the U.S. Senate, Lorraine Rivera hears from the candidates, Republican incumbent Martha McSally and Democratic challenger Mark Kelly, ahead of their debate on October 6 in Phoenix. She also gets analysis on the candidates’ platforms and the outcome’s greater impact on Capitol Hill from Ron Hansen, political editor for the Arizona Republic.

University of Arizona political scientist Barbara Norrander discusses Arizona’s significance when it comes to the Electoral College in 2020.

Watch the full episode here.

AZ voter registration deadline almost here


Arizona residents have until midnight on Monday, Oct. 5 to register to vote or update their voter registration information for what is being called one of the most important elections in generations.

If you are a resident of Arizona by Oct. 5 and a United States citizen at least 18 years old on Election Day, Nov. 3, you have a few options to register. Officials are urging people to not wait until the last minute.

Learn how to register here.

State unemployment fund in danger of running out


Arizona’s unemployment trust fund began the week with $273,482,056 after paying $44,484,243 in claims. The weekly payout for regular unemployment in September was as high as $155,000,000. At those rates, the trust fund could run out of money before the end of next month or sooner.

The trust fund is used to pay regular unemployment claims, not pandemic unemployment which the federal government funds to take care of the self-employed.

Arizona’s economy, like that of the rest of the nation, is struggling to recover, according to economists. Despite the slowly improving picture, last week’s unemployment claims were still triple what they were at the beginning of the year.

learn more here.

Arizona voters to consider another recreational marijuana bill


When voters head to the polls this November, they’ll decide on a marijuana legalization initiative that’s appearing on the ballot in Arizona for the first time since 2016.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Arizona since 2010. More than 250,000 Arizonans are medical marijuana card holders today.

This year’s Smart and Safe Act, or Proposition 207, looks to decriminalize recreational use. If passed, adults 21 and older could legally use and buy the product, and possess it in limited quantities.

Learn more here.

Unapproved Greek 'rush' activities linked to UA virus outbreaks


University of Arizona president Robert Robbins told the Arizona Board of Regents Friday that unauthorized "rush" or recruitment activities at sororities and fraternities triggered the recent outbreak of COVID-19 around campus.

"Even though the rush activities were conducted officially over Zoom and teleconferencing, we now know through contact tracing there were in-person gatherings during the rush process,” Robbins said.

Robbins also said 17 of the university's 22 Greek houses are now under quarantine as a result.

At the outbreak's peak in mid-September, the university was reporting more than 200 new cases of the coronavirus each day. The number has fallen since Pima County asked students to voluntarily quarantine.

Arizona congressman pushes unproven drug treatment for president


A Republican Arizona congressman took to social media Friday morning to recommend an unproven and potentially hazardous treatment plan for the president and his wife.

"Observational studies, more than 50, indicated that early detection of the COVID-19 best be treated with the hydroxychloroquine, zinc and Zpack regimen. I hope that they're able to get that and have a speedy recovery," Biggs said in a video posted to Twitter.

Biggs is not a doctor and has no medical degrees. The FDA says hydroxychloroquine is "unlikely to be effective" in treating novel coronavirus disease, and can cause serious heart problems and other side effects. Experts at Johns Hopkins University call the drug combination "not recommended."

In the first few months of the pandemic, right-wing media personalities pushed the drug combination as a treatment or even cure for COVID-19.

Supreme Court to review Arizona 'ballot harvesting' law


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court says it will review a 2016 Arizona law that bars anyone but a family member or caregiver from returning another person’s early ballot. The law itself, however, remains in effect through the presidential election and until the justices rule.

A federal appeals court ruled in January that Arizona’s law banning so-called “ballot harvesting” violates the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution, but the court put its ruling on hold while the Supreme Court was asked to take the case.

Learn more here.

Delays at Arizona MVD affecting some who want to vote


PHOENIX — Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Division is experiencing significant backlogs and wait times for callers, including some people who are trying to get new IDs so they can register to vote. The division blames the delays on coronavirus precautions implemented. The agency switched to an appointment-only system with slots only available that are scheduled by phone.

Prior to March, the division served 14,000 people daily in offices across the state. Offices now serve about 5,000 people per day. The agency's online system allows people to register to vote using the numbers on their driver’s licenses or their state identification.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation has no COVID-19 deaths for 3rd time this week


WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials reported 13 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Thursday with no additional deaths for the third time this week. The latest figures bring the total number of COVID-19 cases on the vast reservation to 10,369 with the known death toll remaining at 556.

Tribal officials reported no deaths on Monday and Tuesday with just one death on Wednesday. They say 107,599 people have been tested for the coronavirus on the reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah and 7,262 have recovered.

The Navajo Nation has implemented a stricter weekend lockdown as it looks into new clusters of coronavirus cases from family gatherings and off-reservation travel.

Learn more here.

Sexual, gender minorities much likelier to be crime victims


PHOENIX — The first study of its kind has found that people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or gender non-conforming are nearly four times as likely to be victims of violent crime than those outside such communities.

Although other research has long shown that LGBTQ people and gender minorities are disproportionately affected by crime, the study published in Science Advances on Friday looked at data that has only been collected since 2016, making for the first comprehensive and national study to examine the issue.

Learn more here.

Mexican workers send home huge amounts of money amid virus


PHOENIX — Mexican workers have confounded economists by sending home huge sums of money during the coronavirus pandemic. Experts had predicted that as the American economy took a dive, migrant workers would send their families less money, known as remittances. But payments from Mexican workers in August amounted to $3.57 billion, the second-highest level on record for a single month. Most remittances to Mexico come from the U.S.

Economists say their original forecasts underestimated the strength of “human networks” between Mexican migrants in the U.S. and their families back home. They also say the unexpected rise is driven by a weakened Mexican peso and government benefits provided in America.

Learn more here.

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