January 12, 2021

News roundup: Tucson nurses fight for better conditions, daily death toll again breaks record

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Jan. 12.

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 636,100 | Deaths 10,482

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Arizona reported 8,559 new cases of COVID-19 and 335 additional deaths. Tuesday’s death count is the highest for a single day since the pandemic began. However, officials say many of those deaths are due to death certificate reviews, the Associated Press reports.


Tucson nurses advocate for optimal staffing during car procession

AZPM

Nurses from two Tucson hospitals led a car procession Tuesday to advocate for a more balanced workload.

The National Nurses United union, which includes some nurses at St. Joseph's and St. Mary's hospitals, organized what they're calling a honk-a-thon. Nurses started their procession at 8:15 a.m. at St. Mary's Hospital. They're calling on their hospitals administrators to address the increasing patient to nurse ratios that, they say, harm the quality of care they provide.

Fawn Slade is a registered nurse at Saint Joseph's who works with patients out of surgery, like those recovering from hip replacements. As more people contract COVID-19 during this surge, the more nurses, like Slade, are asked to stretch when people need to be hospitalized.

Learn more here.


Pima County Attorney's office goes virtual after COVID outbreak

AZPM

Pima County Attorney Laura Conover says her staff had to scramble over the weekend, when an outbreak of coronavirus forced the entire department to shift to working remotely.

Conover says so many of her employees tested positive for COVID-19 recently that they might not have been able to continue even minimal operations prosecuting cases in the county's superior and justice courts. She says a core team of employees who've already recovered from the disease got busy moving boxes of paperwork to the courts, so attorneys could make court appearances by telephone. "This team really rose to the challenge to make sure we didn't miss a step in our service to the community," Conover said.

Attorneys for the county literally phoned in their court appearances Monday morning. The county attorney's staff normally occupies several floors of the county office building, which are now vacant until they can be deep-cleaned. Conover doesn't know how soon everyone will return to the downtown office.


Arizona sets virus deaths record, hospitalizations top 5,000

AP

PHOENIX — Arizona has set a new one-day record for daily deaths from COVID-19 as hospitalizations from the surge topped 5,000 for the first time.

The state on Tuesday reported 335 new deaths from COVID-19, including 232 after the latest periodic reviews of past death certificates. The state also reported 8,559 additional known COVID-19 cases as pandemic totals increased to 636,100 cases and 10,482 deaths.

With its health care system struggling to cope, the state had a record 5,082 COVID-19 patients occupying inpatient beds as of Monday, including a record 1,183 in intensive care beds. COVID-19 patients occupied 66% of all intensive care beds statewide and 59% of all inpatient beds.

Learn more here.


Navajo Nation reports 154 new COVID-19 cases, but no deaths

AP

WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials on Monday reported 154 new COVID-19 cases, but no deaths.

The latest figures increased the tribe’s totals since the pandemic began to 25,383 cases while the known death toll stayed at 871. Health officials say more than 216,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah and nearly 13,000 have recovered.

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 tribe is continuing weekend lockdowns that run from Friday night to early Monday morning.

Learn more here.


First Case Of UK-Found Coronavirus Strain Detected In Mexico

Fronteras Desk

MEXICO CITY — New strains of the coronavirus have been detected around the world recently, and some cases have been found in the U.S. already. In Mexico, the first case with the type found the United Kingdom has been detected next to the border with the U.S.

The Mexican government reported that a 56-year-old person in the city of Matamoros, right across Brownsville, Texas, has the strain that was first detected in the U.K.

The virus was detected after the person got a COVID-19 test, and the authorities say they are currently monitoring all passengers from the flights.

There are no other cases detected, so far. The infected person is currently receiving medical treatment.

According to studies, this new mutation spreads easier than the first coronavirus detected.


Racist slurs interrupt funeral for Phoenix civil rights icon

AP

PHOENIX — An online memorial service for civil rights icon and city leader Calvin Coolidge Goode was interrupted Tuesday by hackers yelling racist slurs. Goode died on Dec. 23. He was 93.

KTAR-TV reported that Mayor Kate Gallego was speaking on the legacy Goode had left in Phoenix when a man was heard spewing slurs over her comments about a half hour into the virtual service.

The Historic Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church hosted the live stream on its Facebook page, with the participants speaking through Zoom.

Gallego took to Twitter to condemn the interruption and said the police and FBI are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Learn more here.


2 Weeks Of ‘Code Red’ Start In Hermosillo, Other Sonoran Cities

Fronteras Desk

Stricter pandemic control measures are starting in several major Sonoran cities, including Hermosillo, San Luis Rio Colorado and Nogales.

That’s where the first phase of the Codigo Rojo, or Code Red, strategy was set to start Monday. Checkpoints will be set up to keep vehicles off the road between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., and law enforcement will respond to complaints of parties and gatherings. The measures will be in place for at least two weeks.

“Actions will be carried out in homes,” said Sonora Health Secretary Enrique Clausen. That’s where the majority of the disease’s spread is occurring, and where safety protocols are not being observed, he said.

New daily deaths are continuing a troubling upward trend, and new daily cases nearly reached 500 last week, according to data tracked by the University of Sonora.


Doctors Exhausted As Mexico City's Hospitals Reaches Highest Number Of COVID-19 Occupied Beds

Fronteras Desk

MEXICO CITY — The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is hitting many places around the world, with alarming increases of COVID-19 cases. Mexico City is no exception; and some doctors and nurses are using social media to try to make people aware.

Almost 90% of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in Mexico City are occupied. It’s the highest number since the pandemic began. And in many hospitals, workers say they’re worried and exhausted as they run out of personnel, supplies and time.

Mexico City’s Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said the government is analyzing ways to expand hospital facilities and services and even bringing doctors from Cuba. But her government has been criticized for relaxing pandemic measures during the holiday season.


Arizona man charged in Capitol riot appears in court

AP

PHOENIX — An Arizona man who took part in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol while sporting face paint, no shirt and a furry hat with horns has made his first court appearance.

A judge on Monday scheduled a detention hearing Friday for Jake Chansley, who has been jailed on misdemeanor charges since surrendering over the weekend.

Photos captured Chansley inside the Capitol and on the Senate dais as he carried a U.S. flag on a pole topped with a spear. He hasn’t yet entered a plea on charges of entering a restricted building without lawful authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct.

His attorney says Chansley hasn't been able to eat since his arrest Saturday because of a restricted diet. His mom says he needs an organic diet.

Learn more here.


US high court to hear case on virus relief for tribes

AP

FLAGSTAFF — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that centers on who gets a share of $8 billion in federal coronavirus relief allocated for tribes. Lower courts were split on whether Alaska Native corporations should be in the mix.

The U.S. Treasury Department, tasked with doling out the money, sought review from the high court after a federal appeals court ruled that corporations aren't eligible.

The Supreme Court included the case on its order list Friday. The key question is whether the corporations are considered “tribes” under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Learn more here.


As pandemic worsens, most US states resist restrictions

AP

PHOENIX — As the U.S. finds itself in the most lethal phase of the coronavirus outbreak yet, governors and local officials in hard-hit parts of the country are showing little willingness to impose any new restrictions on businesses to stop the spread.

Both Democratic and Republican leaders are signaling their opposition to forced closings and other measures. Some have expressed fear of compounding the economic damage inflicted by the crisis. Some see little patience among their constituents for more restrictions 10 months into the crisis. And some seem to be focusing more on the rollout of the vaccines.

But vaccinating enough Americans to stop the virus could take well into the second half of 2021, by some estimates.

Learn more here.

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