/ Modified jul 28, 2020 4:56 p.m.

Daily news roundup: Primary election approaches, 2nd free COVID-19 testing site to open

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, July 28.

Arizona COVID-19 one-week snapshot, Oct. 22

Since last week, Arizona reported 6,158 new cases (3% increase), 70 more deaths (1% increase) and a statewide positive test rate of 8.4%. The state reported a daily average of 880 cases and 10 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 165,934 | Deaths 3,408 | Diagnostic tests 890,931

On Tuesday, July 28, Arizona reported 2,107 new cases of COVID-19 and 104 additional deaths. As of Monday, July 17, intensive care unit hospital beds were at 84% capacity, making it the least full day in July so far.

Safety a top priority for primary election, AZ secretary of state says


Voter safety is a high priority next week when Arizona residents head to the polls next week to cast their ballots during a global pandemic, the Secretary of State's Office says. The office put together a guide for counties to follow to ensure that Arizona voters are safe when they cast their ballots during the Aug. 4 primary.

Some of the suggestions in the guide are common sense, like wearing masks and using your own pens, according to Secretary Katie Hobbs.

Pima County officials said hand sanitizer will also be available at the polls. They also encouraged people to use the 13 early voting sites to cast their ballots this week in order to avoid crowds on election day.

See an interactive map of early voting sites here.

Mail-in ballots due soon


County election officials recommend mail-in ballots be in the mail no later than Wednesday and waiting any longer will not guarantee it will arrive in time to be counted on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 4. Arizona law says ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on election day in order to be counted. Voters who miss the deadline to mail the ballot back can drop it off at any polling place on election day.

Pima County to open second free COVID-19 testing site


Pima County will open its second free COVID-19 testing site on Wednesday, July 29. Unlike the tests the county offers at the Kino Events Center, the new site will offer the saliva test developed at Arizona State University.

The site at the Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center on Ruthrauff Road will be available by appointment only on the county’s website. Tests at the other county site are also by appointment only.

County officials plan to open a third free testing site in the coming weeks. Pima County is paying for test administration with money it received from the federal CARES Act. Three new testing sites opened in the county last week.

See an interactive map of testing sites here.

Day after no COVID-19 deaths, Arizona reports more than 100


PHOENIX — A day after Arizona health officials reported no coronavirus-related deaths, the state has tallied more than 100 more. The Arizona Department of Health Services said Tuesday that there have been another 104 known deaths and 2,107 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Officials say deaths do not all occur on the same day but are often the results of reviewing death certificates going back weeks. The total number of COVID-19 cases in Arizona now stands at 165,934 and the number of deaths at 3,408.

Meanwhile, in-patient hospitalizations and intensive care unit occupancy continued on slight declines. However, the number of patients on ventilators went up slightly.

Learn more here.

Trial begins in suit challenging education tax initiative


GLENDALE — A trial has started that will help determine if a voter initiative raising taxes on the wealthy in Arizona to help boost education funding makes the November ballot. Opponents of the Invest in Education Act allege that backers illegally paid petition circulators and that the initiative summary attached to petition sheets failed to clearly state the full size and scope of the tax increase.

The proposed initiative backed by many educators and the state teachers union would impose a 3.5% tax surcharge on income above $250,000 for an individual or above $500,000 for couples. The trial is being held in Phoenix.

Learn more here.

Planned furloughs of USCIS workers delayed

Fronteras Desk

The date roughly 13,000 employees of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services could be furloughed has been pushed back to the end of August.

The need for furloughs was based on a projection that the agency would have a large deficit at the end of September. But two Democratic senators said a revised estimate actually predicts a surplus.

It’s unclear where the extra money came from, said Steven Sahr, a union steward at the Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Phoenix.

Sahr said furloughs have been rescheduled for the end of August, unless emergency funding for Citizenship and Immigration Services gets approved.

Learn more here.

Federal government opens offices to solve cold cases in Indian Country

Fronteras Desk

The federal government is opening seven offices across the country, including one in Phoenix, to solve cold cases involving hundreds of murdered and missing Indigenous people.

Last year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at reducing violent crimes and addressing unsolved cases in Indian Country. There are more than 1,400 American Indian and Alaska Native missing person cases in the U.S., according to the FBI.

The new offices will be staffed with tribal law enforcement, Bureau of Indian Affairs, FBI and U.S. Attorney officials. The task force plans to collect and manage data to establish protocols for unsolved cases and to coordinate multijurisdictional cold case teams.

U.S. Attorneys have had trouble prosecuting Indian Country cases due to lack of evidence, limited data collection and lack of clear protocols for authorities.

US won’t expel migrant children detained in Texas hotel


HOUSTON — The Trump administration has agreed not to expel children it detained in a Texas hotel and will instead allow them to remain in the U.S. and pursue their immigration cases.

The move comes days after The Associated Press first reported on the U.S. government’s secretive practice of detaining unaccompanied children in hotels before rapidly deporting them under an emergency declaration citing the coronavirus. Government data obtained by AP showed the U.S. had detained children nearly 200 times over two months in three Hampton Inn & Suites hotels.

Learn more here.

Gyms move forward in lawsuit against closure order

Arizona Daily Star

A judge agreed to let gym and fitness center owners state their case for why Gov. Doug Ducey’s decision to keep their businesses closed during the pandemic is invalid. An attorney representing one of the fitness center owners said that even if gyms met the criteria for safely operating, they had no option to reopen.

Learn more here.

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