May 7, 2020 / Modified may 7, 2020 4:16 p.m.

Arizona coronavirus news in brief, May 7

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona: Pandemic's digital divide for students, AZ reverses decision to halt modeling, and more.

Arizona COVID-19 cumulative counts, July 7

Cases: 105,094 | Deaths: 1,927 | Diagnostic tests: 628,275
The state reported 3,653 more cases and 117 deaths on this day. Choose a Layerlayer and click on county for more.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: ADHS, county health departments, Census 2018 Quick Facts. Test numbers and rates are for reported PCR tests and do not include antibody tests, unlike previous versions of this map. Cumulative totals are based daily numbers posted by the state. Daily changes don't necessarily reflect the previous 24 hours.

Select regional and national coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic as of Thursday, May 7. For more coverage, visit our resource page. This story may be updated.


For students without internet access, the pandemic hits harder

AZPM, May 7

In Arizona, as many as 350,000 households — 13% of all households in the state — don’t have an internet subscription, according to the most recent estimates from the American Community Survey.

Though Gov. Doug Ducey is beginning to lift restrictions on businesses, schools will remain closed at least through the summer. Leaders in education say the pandemic has revealed a stark digital divide among Arizona students, putting the promise of a public education out of reach for some.

“We’ve long said that there are communities in this state that don’t even have electricity, much less the internet access they need to get done what they need to get done,” said Christine Thompson, president of education nonprofit Expect More Arizona and former executive director of the Arizona State Board of Education

Read more here.


Border residents: Border Patrol agents not wearing protective gear at checkpoints

AZPM, May 7

Residents in Arizona border towns say the Border Patrol checkpoints they pass through frequently are staffed with agents who aren’t following safety precautions to protect against the coronavirus. A group of residents is documenting their experiences.

The agency says front-line agents are provided with masks, but federal guidelines don't require them.

Read more here.


Legislature set to end session

AZPM, May 7

State lawmakers will return to the Capitol on Friday to officially end the 2020 legislative session. The Legislature went into recess in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That recess put hundreds of bills on hold. Those proposals will now die when with the adjournment. Last month, legislative leaders announced they would return to end the session, but rank-and-file Republicans pushed back, saying they wanted to return to hear the remaining bills.

Friday’s session is scheduled to only deal with adjournment and not any bills.

Learn more here.


Arizona reverses decision to halt virus modeling team

AP, May 7

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona health officials are backing down from their decision to abruptly end COVID-19 modeling by a group of university researchers.

A Department of Health Services spokesman announced the decision Thursday following a backlash that received national attention. The researchers were told in an email Monday night that their work was being put on “pause" and that the department would “pull back the special data sets" they had used for the model.

The email came hours after Gov. Doug Ducey announced he would allow barbers, salons and restaurants to reopen. Arizona State University said its researchers would continue developing coronavirus models and would share them publicly.

Read more here.


Man who coughed on customs officer gets assault charge

Arizona Daily Star, May 7

A driver accused of coughing directly into the face of a Nogales customs officer in early April, causing the officer to fear she had been infected with coronavirus, is facing an assault charge.

A criminal complaint says after the man did so, he said "you are sick, too." The complaint did not say whether or not the officer or the man, a U.S. citizen, were tested for the coronavirus.

Learn more at Tucson.com.


Campus coalition decries furlough plan, calls for alternatives

Arizona Daily Star, May 7

A coalition from the University of Arizona campus says the school needs to suspend and rethink a furlough and pay cut plan, first introduced last month.

A group of hundreds of graduate students, staff and faculty, called the Coalition for Academic Justice, says the process to arrive at the plan has not been transparent enough and is calling for more of the cuts to come from higher earners. The group is also calling for a spending audit and search for alternative cuts.

Read more at Tucson.com


Virus sweeps through Northern Arizona homeless shelter

AP, May 7

PHOENIX (AP) — Nearly one-third of the people staying at the largest emergency homeless shelter in northern Arizona have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The executive director of Flagstaff Shelter Services said Thursday that 20 people, including two staff members, have COVID-19. Most of them showed no symptoms. The shelter has put up partitions, reduced the number of mattresses and checks temperatures daily.

Meanwhile, Arizona health officials say the number of deaths from the coronavirus outbreak has reached 450 with more than 10,000 reported cases. Gov. Doug Ducey has begun loosening restrictions he had imposed to slow the spread of the virus.

Read more here.



New Mexico extends lockdown for town that's a US hot spot

AP, May 7

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — A small New Mexico city where rural residents from the largest American Indian reservation come to stock up on supplies is one of the nation’s worst coronavirus hot spots.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday extended a lockdown aimed at stemming the spread in Gallup near the Navajo Nation and surrounding areas. The emergency declaration now runs through noon Sunday. Businesses will be closed from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Residents must stay at home except for emergencies. If they go out, they must wear face coverings to any essential business or government building.

Read more here.


Nearly one third of teens at shelter test positive for COVID-19

Arizona Republic, May 7

Nearly a third of residents at a northern Arizona shelter for teenage girls with behavioral issues have tested positive for COVID-19, leading to growing worry for families over the ability for the facility to protect them.

A spokesperson for the Mingus Mountain Academy said none of the residents were showing "severe symptoms," the facility was working to mitigate the risks and that any resident or employee who tested positive was "receiving the best care possible." Still some family members expressed concern that staff and residents weren't receiving appropriate protective equipment.

Read more at AZCentral.com


Official: Strict US border policy may remain as virus eases

AP, May 7

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Trump administration official says a policy of stricter border enforcement imposed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak may have to stay in place even as the virus begins to ebb in the U.S. and life in the country starts to return to normal.

Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan raised the possibility of prolonging the border security measures as he presented statistics showing a steep drop in illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border. President Donald Trump authorized the rapid deportation of undocumented immigrants and closed the border to all but essential traffic in March to help contain the spread of the virus.

Read more here.


Malaria drug shows no benefit in another coronavirus study

AP, May 7

A new study finds no evidence of benefit from a malaria drug widely promoted as a treatment for coronavirus infection.

Hydroxychloroquine did not lower the risk of dying or needing a breathing tube in a comparison that involved nearly 1,400 patients at Columbia University in New York. The New England Journal of Medicine published the report on Thursday.

Although the study is observational rather than a rigorous experiment, an editorial in the journal says it gives valuable information for a decision that hundreds of thousands of coronavirus patients have already had to make without clear evidence about the drug’s risks and benefits.

Read more here.

Loan program is short-term fix, not cure-all, for businesses

AP, May 7

NEW YORK (AP) — The Trump administration has dispensed about $530 billion to millions of small businesses to cushion them from the sharp downturn induced by the coronavirus.

The question is: how effective will the Paycheck Protection Program be? Some small business owners say the program’s low-cost loans have enabled them to forestall layoffs or rehire staff – and appreciate that the loans are forgiven if they spend the bulk of the money saving jobs.

But there have been missteps: applications were held up by technological glitches; some bigger companies got loans they probably didn't need; and there are still questions about the criteria for getting the loans forgiven.

Read more here.


Regents to set some tuition rates for 3 Arizona universities

AP, May 7

The Arizona Board of Regents is having a virtual meeting to set some tuition rates for Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University for the 2020-21 academic year.

Board members on Thursday afternoon will review, discuss and take action on proposed out-of-state and online tuition, academic fees and residence housing and meal plans for the three public universities they govern. The board also will consider tuition for the University of Arizona Colleges of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

Board members have previously said they won’t consider raising in-state tuition rates for the upcoming academic year so ASU, UA and NAU remain accessible for students during tough economic times stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

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