April 2, 2021

News roundup: Sports return in Arizona, updates on local mask mandates

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, April 2.

Arizona COVID-19 cases: 7 days

Map shows COVID-19 cases and case rates over the week preceding the last update.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: The New York Times, based on reports from state and local health agencies, Census Bureau. Case reports do not correspond to day of test.

Cases 843,132 | Deaths 16,989

On Friday, April 2, Arizona reported 940 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 additional deaths.

A return of Arizona sports: how the pandemic is impacting the industry

The Buzz

As the University of Arizona women's basketball team reached for fame this week, it reminds us all how sports have changed in the last year.

The pandemic forced teams to cut seasons short and send fans home, but as scientists have learned more about COVID-19, sports are learning to endure by reducing stadium capacities, social distancing and masking.

This week, The Buzz looks at how Arizona sports and their economic impact have fared over the last year.

Listen to the full episode here.

Local mask mandates, Children’s Museum reopens, travel restrictions

Arizona 360

Former. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona discusses how the campus plans to curb the spread of COVID-19 as it prepares to increase in-person instruction, including reinforcing its mask policy.

ASU Communications professor Bradley Adame discusses some of the psychological and societal factors that lead individuals to choose whether or not to wear a mask.

Tony Paniagua visits the Children’s Museum in Tucson which recently reopened its doors after closing for months during the pandemic.

As travel restrictions remain in place at the U.S.-Mexico border, Vamos a Tucson’s Felipe Garcia discusses how fewer visitors from Mexico have impacted the local economy. Across the border, in Hermosillo, Sonora, journalist and podcaster Claudia Orduño, describes the financial situation in the Mexican state.

Watch the full episode here.

New coalition pushes for Arizona to shift to clean energy by 2050


A coalition of businesses, cities and utilities have banded together to push for reduced carbon emissions, more use of renewable energy and better air quality in Arizona.

The more than 60 members of Arizona Thrives include companies like Sundt and Blue Cross Blue Shield, organizations like Chicanos Por La Causa, cities like Tucson and the state's three major utilities. All have pledged a commitment to improve Arizona's air quality through reduced carbon emissions.

Interim Executive Director Pat Graham said there's a close correlation between air quality and the state's economy, and the group wants to build the case for why reducing carbon emissions should be an economic, social and public health priority.

Learn more here.

TUSD greenlights in-person proms and graduations


Seniors in the Tucson Unified School District will get to enjoy in-person graduation ceremonies and proms this year.

District superintendent Gabriel Trujillo announced that both of these ceremonies will be held outside, on school campuses. Participants will be expected to wear masks.

“We're not obligating the students to get a vaccine, we're strongly encouraging,” Trujillo said. “We would love to see all of our seniors try to at least get the first of the two doses, two weeks prior to either the graduation ceremony or the prom.”

At graduation ceremonies, students will be limited to four guests each. Guests must have a physical ticket and will be spaced out three feet apart.

TUSD partners with Walgreens for employee vaccination clinic


The Tucson Unified School District is teaming up with Walgreens to host a vaccination clinic for district employees next week.

The clinic will be held in the parking lot of the district office and will run from Tuesday April 6 to Thursday April 8.

“Walgreens will be on site administering a maximum of 1,000 Johnson & Johnson single shot vaccines,” Trujillo said.

Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo said that all TUSD employees are eligible, including teachers, staff and substitutes.

Trujillo said that so far about 300 employees have signed up through the district's internal outreach program.

Unemployment continues slow drop


New claims for regular and pandemic unemployment continue to drop in Arizona.

The latest numbers reported by the state show that 400 fewer people filed first-time unemployment claims in Arizona last week. The total number of people filing new claims has not been this low for a year.

Continued claims, which count the total number of people receiving unemployment each week, continued to drop but the number is still high with 180,000 claims for all types of unemployment paid last week.

Arizona’s monthly unemployment rate is still higher than the national average.

Arizona governor eases some restrictions as virus cases wane


PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday eased restrictions on elective surgeries and long-term care facilities.

With vaccination efforts underway, Ducey said Arizona is able to roll back some limitations.

His order Thursday provides hospitals with the flexibility to conduct elective surgeries. He said the state can now also help facilitate additional visitation as well as off-site visits for long-term care residents without the need for quarantine upon return.

Arizona on Thursday reported the number of people who have received at least one dose of vaccine passed 30% of the state’s population. The number of COVID-19 cases is declining around Arizona.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports 5 more COVID-19 cases, 5 more deaths


WINDOW ROCK — The Navajo Nation on Thursday reported five new COVID-19 cases and five deaths.

The tribe had reported no deaths in three of the previous four days and six of the last 11 days overall.

Tribal health officials said the latest figures bring the total number of cases since the pandemic started to 30,108 with the known death toll at 1,252.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. The Navajo Nation covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Learn more here.

In ghostly border video, dangers for migrant kids revealed


PHOENIX — A short, grainy video recently released by U.S. authorities captures the dangers for migrant children at the southern border.

In it, a man straddles a 14-foot barrier near Santa Teresa, New Mexico. He dangles one toddler before letting her drop, then does the same to a second, slightly larger child. Then the smuggler and another man run off into the desert.

Border authorities say the children are sisters, ages 3 and 5, and from Ecuador. They were found alert, taken to a hospital and cleared of any physical injuries.

Thousands of children have come to the U.S. border in recent months. In February it was the largest number in nearly two years.

Learn more here.

Large-Scale Vaccination Set To Begin In Sonoran Capital Next Week

Fronteras Desk

In neighboring Sonora, Mexico, large-scale vaccination hasn’t even started in the capital city. But older adults are set to begin receiving doses next week.

About 68,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to be administered in Hermosillo next week to adults 60 and older.

They will be the first vaccines given to the general public in Sonora’s capital and most populated city, the last of the state’s 72 municipalities to inoculate non-medical personnel.

According to Mexico’s statistics agency, there are more than 325,000 people over 60 in the state. Fewer than half been vaccinated to date.

Comcaac Nation In Sonora Demands Water With Historic Gathering

Fronteras Desk

Members of the Comcaac Nation from El Desemboque and Punta Chueca left their homes at 4 a.m. Saturday, their path lit only by the light of the moon.

Their ancestors walked these sacred lands out of necessity, searching for food and water.

“There weren’t nomads just to be nomads,” said Mayra Estrella of El Desemboque. “And now we’re back here because we are in need. Right now in both communities we’re living without water.”

The shortage started in El Desemboque in December, when a pump for the well that has served the community for years broke because of power instability. Facing economic hardship during the pandemic, the town has accumulated several thousand dollars in debt with Mexico’s electricity commission.

Learn more here.

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