Arizona COVID-19 one-week snapshot, Sept. 16
Cases 131,354 | Deaths 2,343 | Diagnostic tests 735,184.
On Wednesday, July 15, Arizona reported 3,257 new cases and 97 additional deaths. The total number of cases that required hospitalization is 5,103. In an effort to fight the rising number of COID-19 cases, health care workers have called upon the public to wear masks when out in public.
Frontline health care workers urge public to wear masks
Local medical professionals are reiterating the call for people to wear masks as they deal with a surge of COVID-19 cases.
State Sen. Victoria Steele of Tucson visited Tucson Medical Center Tuesday to talk with medical staff about how they're handling the pandemic. She said the message they gave to her was simple:
"'Wear a mask. For god's sake, put a mask on! Wear a mask! This is easy for you. Wear a mask',” Steele said.
The state senator said she visited TMC at the invitation of hospital officials after she wrote on social media about her concerns with the state moving to triage standards of care. Steele said despite the state enacting its "crisis care" standards, TMC officials say they currently do not have to ration care for patients, yet.
Mount Lemmon closed after wildfire
The National Forest Service is keeping Sabino Canyon and much of Mount Lemmon closed, possibly through early November. The Bighorn Fire, which started on the mountain in early June, is largely contained, after burning 120-thousand acres. But the fire-scarred areas of the mountain could produce heavy runoff and flash flooding, especially with the coming monsoon.
The closure, announced Tuesday night, does not include the town of Summerhaven. However, access to the town is limited because the Mount Lemmon Highway remains closed to the public. People who live on the mountain or have businesses there can still access the area.
The Catalina State Park may reopen sooner, at the discretion of state officials.
Arizona ban on evictions set to end as heat, infections soar
PHOENIX (AP) — Housing advocacy groups have joined lawmakers in lobbying Arizona's governor to extend his coronavirus-related moratorium on evictions. It will expire next week and allow authorities to start forcibly removing hundreds of renters in a state that’s a national hot spot for both infections and scorching summer weather.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s order ending July 22 was supposed to ensure people wouldn't lose their homes if they got COVID-19 or lost jobs in the pandemic's economic fallout. He says he doesn’t intend to extend the order. States from Nevada to Virginia also have recently lifted or are about to end moratoriums on rent payments and foreclosures.
School district in the Tohono O'odham Nation beginning school year online
Baboquivari Unified School District (BUSD) in the Tohono O'odham Nation will begin the 2020-2021 school year online Aug. 3.
The district serves 1,100 students, approximately 350 of which live in the Sells, Arizona, where BUSD is based, but the majority of the student population lives on average 1.5 hours away from Sells in surrounding Tohono O'odham communities.
Superintendent Edna Morris said last spring when all schools began virtual classrooms, many of the students did not have reliable or any internet access at home, so the Tohono O'odham Utility Authority set up approximately 40 hot spots across the Tohono O'odham Nation that covers about 2.8 million acres, a space the size of the state of Connecticut. But she said the hot spots couldn't handle small groups of kids logging on at one location. The district is working with the utility authority in order to make sure that all students have access to their online education.
UA applauds repeal of ICE ban on online study for foreign students
The repeal of a controversial federal directive that would have barred foreign students, including those from the University of Arizona, from attending online courses in the U.S.is receiving praise from UA President Robert Robbins.
Last week Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said international students would not be allowed to enter or stay in the country unless they attended in-person classes. Several universities and colleges had already laid out plans to remain fully online for the fall semester in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The policy was met with a series of legal challenges from institutions across the country, including the University of Arizona. All three of the state's public universities joined onto a group suit this week.
But the fight came to an end Monday, when a Massachusetts District Court announced the Trump administration has agreed to walk the policy back ahead of the first hearing against it.
In a statement, Robbins said the university was happy with the decision.
Interplanetary visitor sweeps past Earth
Tucson skywatchers are getting an unexpected treat this month with the surprise appearance of a comet passing by Earth.
The comet is called Neowise - named after the spacecraft that discovered it. University of Arizona astronomer Vishnu Reddy said the comet should be visible to the naked eye for the next several days.
"If you go out in the evening, look northwest about an hour after sunset, if you have a clear view of the horizon and if there is no monsoon you should see a fuzzy object with a little tail," said Reddy.
Fellow UA astronomer Amy Manzier said the comet surprised observers by surviving its closest approach to the sun intact.
This comet is about five kilometers across - about the size of downtown Tucson and because of that it's been able to survive the sun," she said. "Even though it's gotten really cold, it's putting on a beautiful show."
Astronomers expected Neowise to lose mass as it came closer to the sun, but instead it became one of the brightest comets to pass Earth in decades. The comet is on a path toward the outer reaches of the solar system, and it won't return to Earth's neighborhood for another 6,800 years.
National Guard begins coronavirus testing efforts for White Mountain Apache Tribe
The Arizona National Guard is testing members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe for COVID-19 free of charge. The team will be in Whiteriver Thursday.
The tribe says so far just over 2,000 of its members have tested positive for the disease since early April, while 27 have died.
Col. Tom Leeper with the Arizona National Guard heads the medical task force partnering with the tribe. He says their goal is to administer at least 1,000 tests during their visit.
He says that the needs of tribal nations in Arizona are broad.
"They essentially need more testing,” Leeper said. “They need more staff at their hospitals, and they need more [personal protective equipment]. We can't get away from that anywhere in the state of Arizona, even on the nations."
The federal government is responsible for providing health care to tribal members wherever they may live. On tribal lands, this is largely done by Indian Health Services.
Report: Gender-Based Violence On The Rise In Sonora During Pandemic
In neighboring Sonora, Mexico, cases of gender-based violence rose more than 47% during the the first three months of coronavirus quarantine — March through May — compared to the same period last year, from 904 during the three month period in 2019, to 1,333 in 2020.
That’s according to an analysis of federal crime data by the Sonoran Observatory for Security, which focused on gender-based crimes including femicide, domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment and sexual assault, among others.
“Yeah that’s a pretty huge number," analyst Krimilda Bernal, said of the increase in cases.“These numbers will continue rising if the local governments aren’t giving sufficient funds or the correct attention to victims, since not everyone receives the proper follow-up."
Of Mexico’s 32 states, Sonora had the fourth-highest number of domestic violence 911 calls from January to May of this year — more than 24,000 — making it top state for emergency domestic violence calls per 100,000 residents, according to federal data.
But Bernal said only a small portion of those calls have resulted in an investigation. She added that because so many victims are quarantined with their abusers, combined with pandemic-related stresses on already limited resources and shelter-spaces for women and children facing violence, likely means reported numbers are a significant under count.
Violence against women was a significant issue in Sonora, and across Mexico, before the pandemic. And in February, nationwide protests sought to bring attention to the issue.
TUSD plans for reopening includes online learning, supervision by “monitors”
Arizona Daily Star
All students in the Tucson Unified School will be given online instruction, even those who take in-person classes.
In accordance with an executive order issued by Gov. Doug Ducey, schools must offer in-person learning spaces for parents and students who wish to physically return to school by the August 17 start date. For students who do return to school, classes would be much smaller and students would have individual devices to use.
These in-person learning spaces will be overseen by a monitor. Teachers may or may not be in the classroom itself as some may teach virtually from home