August 3, 2020

Daily news roundup: Primary election almost here, voter safety measures in place

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, August 3.

Arizona COVID-19 one-week snapshot, Oct. 26

Since last week, Arizona reported 7,185 new cases (3% increase), 54 more deaths (1% increase) and a statewide positive test rate of 8.6%. The state reported a daily average of 1,026 cases and 8 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.

Cases 179,497 | Deaths 3,779 | Diagnostic tests 964,418.

On Monday, Aug. 3, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,030 news cases of COVID-19 and 14 additional deaths. Reported deaths are sometimes lower at the beginning of the week due to reporting delays over the weekend.

Forgot to put your ballot in the mail? Don't worry


If you haven't already cast your ballot by mail, tomorrow, Aug. 4, is the primary election. From registration to polling places, there are a few logistical matters to keep in mind. Pima County has provided a list of commonly-asked questions about voting, which we're sharing here as a resource.

Arizona voters will find COVID-19 precautions at polls


PHOENIX — Voters going to the polls Tuesday for Arizona’s primaries will find larger venues to allow for social distancing and poll workers wearing masks as the tradition of casting a ballot adjusts to the coronavirus pandemic. Most of those who will vote have already done so by mail or at an early voting location. But in-person voting options are in place around the state.

While Arizona will be in the national spotlight in November as a presidential battleground state and the home of one of the most closely watched Senate contests in the nation, the primaries feature few big-ticket contests.

Where the Constitution and COVID-19 intersect


Restrictions to fight the spread of COVID-19 have some people saying government has overstepped its bounds. A group of law professors has written an essay that says the highest law in the land defines the issue differently.

University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law Professor Toni Massaro and her colleagues write that the document can drive public health decisions made by government at all levels in the country.

“The Constitution actually only constrains government actors. It doesn’t constrain a private business, per se. But we think the norms that you can pull out of the due process clause and equality and basic liberties really should inform all health care or pandemic policy planners,” said Massaro.

Read more here.

Multiple arrests in Border Patrol raids on migrant aid camps last week


Border Patrol agents executing a federal search warrant arrested more than 30 migrants at a medical aid camp run by humanitarian group No More Deaths Friday.

Byrd Camp is located in Arivaca and serves as medical site for people passing through one of the deadliest desert corridors of the Arizona borderland.

No More Deaths volunteer Emily Saunders said around sunset Friday, agents in several vehicles, ATVs and an armored vehicle descended on the property to make the arrests. Saunders also said two helicopters also circled above.

Friday's raid is the latest event in a several-day encounter between the group and Border Patrol agents. On Thursday, Saunders said agents entered the camp for the first time in over a year and arrested one migrant receiving care there.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports 35 more COVID-19 cases, 1 death


WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials have reported 35 more cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. That brings the total number of people infected to 9,103 and the known death toll to 461 as of Sunday night.

Tribal health officials said 81,665 people have been tested for the coronavirus and 6,736 have recovered. The vast majority of people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 recover. For some people it causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for some people who contract the virus, especially those who are older or have underlying health conditions, it can cause more severe illness and death.

Learn more here.

Navajo lawmakers pass massive virus relief spending bill


WINDOW ROCK — Lawmakers on the Navajo Nation have approved a massive spending bill to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation includes money for water projects, power lines, broadband and casino employees who no longer are receiving paychecks. The Navajo Nation Council passed the more than $650 million measure late Friday after discussing it for more than 28 hours in a special session over three days.

The money comes from the Navajo Nation's share of $8 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding that was set aside for tribes. Navajo President Jonathan Nez has 10 days to act on the bill once it reaches him.

Learn more here.

Bridge section damaged in Tempe train derailment demolished


TEMPE — A 150-foot portion of a century-old bridge that was damaged in a train derailment and resulting fire in Tempe was demolished Sunday morning as part of the cleanup process.

Eight to 10 cars of a 102-car Union Pacific Railroad freight train traveling from Tucson to Phoenix derailed around 6 a.m. Wednesday on a railroad bridge over the man-made Tempe Town Lake. The derailed cars were carrying lumber and hazardous material and burst into flames, causing the century-old bridge to partially collapse on the south end.

Union Pacific officials say the demolished portion of the bridge will likely be cut into smaller pieces so it can be removed. There isn’t a timeline yet for when the bridge will be reconstructed.

Learn more here.

Health clubs try again to undo Ducey’s gym closure order


PHOENIX — Arizona’s top public health official was grilled in court Monday over why health clubs must remain closed to guard against the coronavirus’ spread, yet other businesses can remain open. Dr. Cara Christ said customers at health clubs, unlike those in supermarkets and hardware stores, could cause the virus to spread through vigorous breathing.

Two health club chains want a judge to block the state's gym closure order. Public health advocate Will Humble testified on behalf of the clubs. He said a club member who is wearing a mask and social distancing is safer than customers who take off masks as they eat and drink across restaurant tables.

Learn more here.

University of Arizona to acquire online school

Arizona Daily Star

The University of Arizona announced Monday that it will acquire the for-profit online school Ashford University. The purchase is a part of a plan to expand UA’s non-profit Global Campus, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

The university had been seriously considering the acquisition since spring. Ashford University has about 35,000 students, with many of them older that the traditional undergraduate student population.

Learn more here.

Man who fell from border wall dies in Yuma hospital


YUMA — Border Patrol agents say a Mexican man has died at an Arizona hospital after falling off a section of the border wall. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement Sunday that the 33-year-old man died at a Yuma hospital on Saturday.

Agents from the Yuma Border Patrol Sector located him on July 26 in an open field. The man told them that he was injured after falling from the border wall. Authorities say the agents immediately called for firefighters. The man was transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center. Border Patrol officials did not release the man’s name or any details about the nature of his injuries.

Learn more here.

Fight between 2 men outside Tucson apartments turns fatal


Police in Tucson say a suspect has been arrested after a fight between two men in front of their apartment complex turned deadly. They say 58-year-old David Eugene Nickerson was pronounced dead at the scene Saturday night.

Witnesses told police that a neighbor walked over to Nickerson and allegedly started the fight. Tucson Police SWAT Team got into the apartment and arrested 57-year-old Thomas Howard Turner. He’s been booked into the Pima County Jail on suspicion of second-degree murder. It was unclear Sunday if Turner has a lawyer yet who can speak on his behalf.

Learn more here.

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