June 25, 2020

Daily News Roundup: Police chief to stay on, Ducey warns about virus surge

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, June 25

Arizona COVID-19 one-week snapshot, Sept. 21

This map tracks changes in reported COVID-19 numbers over a one-week period. Since last week, Arizona reported 5,506 new cases (3% increase), 154 more deaths (3% increase) and a statewide positive test rate of 6.2%. The state reported a daily average of 787 cases and 22 deaths. Choose a Layerlayer and click on a county to learn more.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: ADHS, county health departments, Census 2018 Quick Facts. *Test numbers are totals including diagnostic and serology tests. Positive test rate is calculated using reported case and test totals. Daily reports may not reflect recent data, the state says.

Thursday, June 25, Arizona reported 3,056 COVID-19 cases, bringing its cumulative tally to 63,030. In just seven days, the number of cases increased by 35%. The state reported 27 new deaths, bringing the total to 1,490, and hospitalizations continued to steadily rise.

Tucson Mayor Romero: Police Chief Magnus shouldn't resign


Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said she thinks Tucson Police Department Chief Chris Magnus should not resign from his post, and City Manager Michael Ortega has rejected Magnus' offer, according to an email from a city official.

The move comes a day after Magnus offered to resign amid a controversy over the public revelation of the death of a man in police custody in April.

In a statement Thursday Romero said the decision on whether or not to accept Magnus' resignation falls to the city manager. She went on to say she didn't think he should.

She made the recommendation citing conversations with colleagues and pointing to what she considered to be "forward-thinking" policies and strong community relationships on the part of Magnus.

Learn more here.

Gov. Ducey implores Arizonans to be safer, stay home, but doesn't require it


Gov. Doug Ducey struck a more somber tone on Thursday in his weekly address on COVID-19, saying Arizona was hitting its first wave and pointing to troubling trends that have yet to play out. But the governor made no enforceable changes to the state's response to the pandemic.

Ducey cited increasingly troubling statistics in terms of cases and hospitalizations, saying he expected things to get worse in the coming weeks and that hospitals were expected to reach capacity. Hospital beds and ICU capacity have been decreasing, and the use of ventilators is increasing.

"COVID-19 is widespread in Arizona. It's growing and it's growing fast," he said.

Still, Ducey followed the grim acknowledgement by emphasizing policies that were already in place, and instead repeatedly said he was "enlisting" residents of the state to work together to reduce the spread on their own. He urged people to stay home as much as possible.

Learn more here.

Uncertainty in UA reopening


There is less certainty that the University of Arizona will open for in-person classes in August. University leaders are planning for an August return of students to campus, but President Robert Robbins says with thousands of new cases of COVID-19 being reported in Arizona every day, he's not sure.

"I think if we can get back to flattening the curve I would feel comfortable with us moving forward for opening this campus. But if I had to say today would we open, no," Robbins said.

Robbins said he will make the final decision in about a month. For now, he is encouraging people to wear masks in public and use social distancing to flatten the curve once again.

State to give more money to schools due to pandemic


The funding plan from Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and Gov. Doug Ducey totals $270 million.

The lion’s share of the money, $200 million, will go to help schools with lower enrollments caused by students staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of that money will also help schools pay for remote learning.

Schools across the state closed in March while most students were on spring break. Most districts plan on reopening in August, some parents, however, are still not sure they want to send their kids back to school.

The Arizona Education Association is concerned that all that time out of the classroom will hurt learning and school grades. During a news conference Wednesday, they called for a suspension of statewide testing.

Pima County man convicted of voter fraud


Randy Allen Jumper pleaded guilty in Pima County court to attempting to vote in two states during the 2016 general election.

Allen cast a mail-in ballot in Pima County and one in Nevada. He was also charged with signing a statement saying he would not vote in the general election in anyplace other than Arizona.

Voter fraud cases are rare, but most in Arizona involve voting twice.

Learn more here.

Some hospitals halt elective surgeries amid COVID-19 spike


PHOENIX (AP) — Some hospitals halted elective surgeries Thursday as the number of COVID-19 cases remained on the rise since Republican Gov. Doug Ducey lifted stay-home restrictions in May.

Health officials have attributed the rising number of cases to both increased testing and community spread of the disease. The state Department of Health Services reported 3,056 additional COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the fourth day in a week in which the state had daily increases over 3,000.

Learn more here.

Sonora implements new COVID-19 response strategy

Fronteras Desk

Sonoran health officials reported 53 coronavirus-related deaths Tuesday — the highest toll in a single day.

While Sonora is still officially under strict stay-at-home orders, more people are returning to work and venturing out for essential activities. So the state is also implementing a new strategy called “Anticipa.”

"We're going to comply with the most effective, tested strategies in the world, which are early detection and with stay-at-home orders," said state Health Secretary Enrique Clausen.

He said Sonora hopes to be able to anticipate outbreaks through increased testing, coupled with measures like sanitizing crowded spaces.

Clausen emphasized that the new strategy is meant to supplement, not replace, stay-at-home orders, social distancing and mask-wearing, as the state continues to deal with a high number of cases that threaten to overwhelm the health care system.

AZ Indigenous Peoples' Caucus urges state to rename Columbus Day


The Arizona Indigenous Peoples' Caucus is calling for the state and nation to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day. The group tied their announcement to President Donald Trump's visit to Phoenix Tuesday, calling out his "violent and divisive rhetoric."

The group said it's time to stop celebrating Christopher Columbus' legacy of genocide toward Indigenous peoples across the country, calling the holiday "shameful" and a reminder of past trauma.

Read more here.

Arizona starts talks on addressing dwindling Colorado River


FLAGSTAFF— Arizona is getting a jump start on what will be a yearslong process to address a dwindling but key water source in the U.S. West.

Several states rely on the Colorado River for drinking water and growing crops. But climate change, drought and demand have taken a toll on the river that no longer can deliver what was promised in the 1920s. The states have been operating under a set of guidelines approved in 2007.

Those guidelines and an overlapping drought contingency plan will expire in 2026. Arizona water officials gathered Thursday to start talking about what comes next.

Learn more here.

Pandemic shopping habits will be slow to change, says UA researcher


Retailers should expect changes in shopping behavior created by the coronavirus pandemic to stick around for a while.

University of Arizona consumer science researcher Sabrina Helm said people have become so accustomed to measures like online shopping and curbside pickup that they are not likely to go back into stores right away.

She thinks a bigger issue for retailers is telling shoppers that they cannot enter a store if they are not wearing a mask.

"We put store employees in a very difficult position to have to argue with customers in regards to mask-wearing requirements," said Helm. "I see that as more of a hot spot right now than the actual compliance of the retailers themselves."

Public mask-wearing requirements to stem the spread of the coronavirus went into effect in Tucson and Pima County last weekend.

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