Arizona COVID-19 two-week snapshot
COVID-19 cases continue to rise statewide
The Arizona Department of Health Services reported six-hundred eighteen new confirmed coronavirus cases today, bringing the total to twenty-eight thousand two-hundred ninety-six. More than 31-hundred are in Pima county.
One-thousand seventy people have died across Arizona due to complications from Covid-19; that includes more than two hundred in Pima county.
Tucson City Council to revisit ordinance on recording police
Tucson's mayor and council voted Tuesday to revisit a controversial ordinance that critics see as discouraging citizens from recording police misconduct.
Council members voted to consider suspending the ordinance for 90 days to give the public a chance to comment and give city staff a chance to consider changes. They'll take a final vote in two weeks.
Council member Lane Santa Cruz said more public input is needed.
"We have not shopped this around the key stakeholders in our community to make sure that we are protecting the public's First Amendment right."
The ordinance came under criticism for allegedly trying to prevent bystanders from recording police activity. The ordinance, passed in late April, bans bystanders from entering a crime scene without permission and also makes in a crime to interfere with a police investigation.
The council passed the ordinance after activists calling themselves "First Amendment auditors" posted video [Eds: Discretion advised] showing someone repeatedly taunting a police officer conducting an investigation, with multiple obscenities.
Arizona weekly unemployment continues to rise
Last week, nearly 120,000 Arizonans filed first-time unemployment claims, an increase of nearly 40,000 people.
Close to 100,000 of the new claims were filed by the self-employed or people working in the gig economy.
Until mid-May the self-employed were not allowed to claim unemployment. Federal legislation temporarily waived that ban, but will soon expire.
The first week of June was one of the largest weeks for first-time claims since the start of the pandemic. The highest one-week total was the first week in April, but it did not include the self-employed.
The federal government, through the CARES Act, added $600 to unemployment checks during the pandemic. That funding will expire on July 31. It is unclear whether or not Congress and the president will renew it.
Drone flights cost firefighters time in north Tucson mountain blaze
Firefighters battling a wildfire north of Tucson are reminding drone pilots to stay out of their way.
A drone interrupted firefighting efforts twice while teams tried to get the Bighorn Fire contained this week. Coronado National Forest spokesperson Heidi Schewel notes the incursions kept airborne crews grounded and allowed the fire to spread.
"You need to really think about the fact that a drone is an aircraft and there are federal regulations on how you need to use it when you're the pilot, because that's what you are," she said.
Drone operators who interfere with firefighters risk prison time and could pay thousands of dollars in fines. The Bighorn Fire was sparked by lightning last Friday. As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire had burned more than four square miles.
Arizona secretary of state calls for removal of confederate monument near Capitol
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs sent a letter Monday to the state Department of Administration requesting that a confederate monument on a plaza across from the state Capitol be removed.
Hobbs said the monument does not belong with others in Wesley Bolin Plaza that honor Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Navajo Code Talkers, and the Granite Mountain Hotshots. She wrote, “Surely those who took up arms in treason and in defense of slavery do not belong amongst those who have given so much.”
Arizona has six confederate memorials across the state, one of which is across from the Capitol. In 2015, a group of state lawmakers lead by Rep. Reggie Bolding tried to have all of them removed. Gov. Doug Ducey and other state leaders fought Bolding’s attempts. In 2017, at least two of the memorials were vandalized. At the time, Bolding and others condemned the vandalism, saying that was not the right way to handle the issue.
In the letter, Hobbs offered to hold the monument in the Arizona Capitol Museum in long-term storage. The secretary of state’s office oversees the museum.
A spokesperson for the Department of Administration said they received the letter and “respect [Hobbs'] position on the issue” and will look into it.
Pascua Yaqui appoint new tribal leadership
The newly elected tribal council of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe has appointed Peter S. Yucupicio to be chairman for his fourth term in office.
Monday the council announced that Yucupicio would be the chair and Robert Valencia, the last chairman, would be the new vice chair for the next four years.
Yucupicio and Valencia served in reserve role during the 2016-2020 term, but neither were new to the 11-person council even then. Yucupicio first served on the council in 2000 as the tribe's treasurer, and since then he's held the position of chair or vice chair, according to a tribal council appointment document.
Though the men were appointed to these positions by the tribe's new council, Yucupicio also received the most votes during the general election June 1, with 1,298 ,or 5.42%. He was one of 60 candidates 2,608 voters chose from to make up the council.
The tribe reports 15.82% percent of the 16,487 eligible voters participated in this election. The tribe did try to increase voter turnout while observing safe voting practices during the pandemic by sending its voters absentee ballot request forms and promoting early voting. A little under half of those who voted, 1,145 people, participated in one of these two forms of voting.
Some of the members of the council were re-elected from the last term but about a third of the council members was replaced.
U of A and state expand antibody testing
The University of Arizona's COVID-19 antibody testing study has been expanded to include all employees at hospitals and a board list of registered health care professionals. They will also be available to state corrections officers and child safety workers.
Antibody testing identifies if you have proteins in your blood produced by your immune system to fight the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
If you have COVID-19 antibodies, researchers say don't assume you can't become re-infected.
If you decide to participate, the researchers will draw a sample of your blood and take down your information. Some of your blood might then be sent to U of A partners for additional testing.
Any of these institutions can use these samples later on for...quote "unspecified research projects without your additional consent."