March 2, 2021

News roundup: U.S. Forest Service rescinds Oak Flat review, effort to recall Tucson mayor falls short

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, March 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 818,670 | Deaths 16,060

On Tuesday, March 2, Arizona reported 849 new cases of COVID-19 and 81 additional deaths. Gov. Doug Ducey received his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.


Forest Service rescinds environmental review for Resolution Copper proposed mine

AZPM

The Tonto National Forest will be rescinding an environmental review that triggered the land swap of Oak Flat, an Apache religious site, to a copper company.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture told the forest service to rescind the final environmental impact statement in order to thoroughly review concerns about the Resolution Copper proposed mine from the public, tribes and its other partners, according to a statement from the department.

Luke Goodrich is an attorney representing Apache Stronghold, one of the groups challenging the transfer and the mining project in court. He said the announcement came just hours before the federal government needed to respond to an emergency appeal that argues the swap infringes on Apache religious freedoms.

Learn more here.


Recall effort against Tucson mayor fails

AZPM

An effort to recall Tucson Mayor Regina Romero has come up short. The Tucson City Clerk's Office Monday said the group "Recall Regina 2020" did not submit enough petition signatures to begin the process to force the mayor to either resign or face a recall election.

The law requires the signatures of at least 24,710 people to begin the recall process. The City Clerk said the petitions fell 557 signatures below the minimum -- and that's before any of the signatures were verified to be sure each signer was a registered voter.

Learn more here.


Uhlich appointed to replace Durham on Tucson City Council

AZPM

The Tucson City Council Monday appointed former council member Karin Uhlich to the Ward Three council seat she held for twelve years.

The council called a special meeting to choose a replacement for council member Paul Durham, who submitted his resignation on February 1, citing personal reasons. Durham and Mayor Regina Romero nominated retired council member Uhlich for the job, and the city also took applications from the public.

The council voted unanimously to appoint Uhlich effective immediately. Uhlich represented Ward 3, on the city's northwest side, from 2005 to 2017.

Learn more here.


Ducey gets vaccine as Arizona COVID death toll tops 16,000

AP

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has received a vaccination against COVID-19 at a mass vaccination site in Glendale.

The 56-year-old Republican got his shot on Tuesday, a day after the state allowed people as young as age 55 to get the vaccine.

Arizona’s pandemic death toll also passed 16,000, with state officials reporting 81 more deaths and 849 additional confirmed infection cases. The rise in infections marked the lowest daily increase for cases in three months.

The latest figures released Tuesday increased the state’s pandemic totals to 818,670 confirmed cases and 16,080 deaths.


Navajo Nation confirms 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

AP

WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials on Monday reported 12 new coronavirus cases but no additional deaths.

The latest figures bring the total number of COVID-19 cases to 29,754 cases since the pandemic began. The death toll stands at 1,170.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez cautioned in a statement that people should not become complacent just because case numbers continue to trend downward.

Health facilities on the reservation and in border towns are conducting drive-thru vaccine events or administering doses by appointment. The Navajo-area Indian Health Service has vaccinated more than 100,000 people so far.

Learn more here.


Supreme Court likely to uphold Arizona voting restrictions

AP

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court appears ready to uphold voting restrictions in Arizona in a key case that could make it harder to challenge a raft of other voting measures Republicans have proposed following last year’s elections.

All six conservative justices, appointed by Republican presidents, suggested Tuesday they would throw out an appellate ruling that struck down the restrictions as racially discriminatory under the landmark Voting Rights Act.

The three liberal members of the courts, appointed by Democrats, were more sympathetic to the challengers.

Less clear is what standard the court might set for how to prove discrimination under the law, first enacted in 1965.

Learn more here.


Sonoran Capital Hermosillo Now At Moderate Coronavirus Risk

Fronteras Desk

Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora and its largest city, has fallen to moderate coronavirus risk, according to a state metric.

That comes as the state in general continues the downward trend toward fewer deaths and new confirmed cases, according to data tracked by the University of Sonora. While state health officials are urging continued compliance with social distancing, mask wearing and other measures, some restrictions will now ease.

Night clubs and casinos will again be able to open at reduced capacity, and all businesses will be able to operate until midnight.

Six Sonoran municipalities remain at high risk. All but two cities included in the weekly state health department summary showed improvement from the previous week.


Sonora Sees Significant February Jobs Growth

Fronteras Desk

Sonora, Arizona’s neighbor to the south, saw significant job growth in February.

The state added more than 27,000 formal jobs last month, the largest month-to-month figure in the country, Social Security head Zoé Robledo told state officials, according to a release. January also saw a sizable rise of roughly 12,000 positions, according to federal data.

The latest jump puts the state slightly above where it was in February 2020, the month before the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Sonora and heavy business restrictions went into effect. The monthly jobs figure then fell for six straight months before a fall rebound that was ultimately reversed by the winter’s second wave.

The figures do not include informal jobs, which are a significant part of the Mexican workforce and have been much more volatile during the pandemic.


Arizona city approves new anti-discrimination ordinance

AP

MESA — City officials in the third most populous city in Arizona have voted to approve a non-discrimination ordinance, joining other cities in the state to provide protections to members of the LGBTQ community and other groups.

The Mesa City Council passed the ordinance with a 5-2 vote on Monday. Mesa Mayor John Giles said the ordinance demonstrates the city’s commitment to respecting and supporting equality and diversity.

It will take effect on June 29, making Mesa the seventh city in the state to adopt a non-discrimination ordinance.

Repeat offenders could face fines between $300 to $2,500. There would be no fine for a first violation.

Learn more here.

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