/ Modified aug 18, 2020 6:03 p.m.

News roundup: 'Historic' primary turnout, gym's challenge to Ducey denied, USPS halts changes

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Aug. 18.

Cases: 194,920 | Deaths: 4,529 | PCR tests: 1,102,493

On Tuesday, Aug. 18, the state reported 915 new cases of novel coronavirus and 23 additional deaths. The Navajo Nation, which at one time had the most cases of COVID-19 per capita in the U.S., rescinded its stay-at-home order recently. Pima County had one of the highest rates of new reported cases to tests in the state over the previous week.

August primary was one for the record books


Statewide turnout for the August primary election was 36.45%, a number Secretary of State Katie Hobbs called “historic.”

In all, 1.4 million ballots were cast by Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian voters. 88% of the ballots cast for the August 4 election were cast early according to the Secretary of State’s office. In Pima County, about 91% of votes were cast early.

Arizona allows voters to get an absentee ballot without an excuse and maintains a Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) which allows Arizona voters to sign up to always receive an early ballot in the mail.

Last week, Hobbs asked the Arizona Attorney General to investigate whether or not President Trump violated Arizona election law by withholding funding from the U.S. Postal Service.

Postal Service halts some changes amid outcry, lawsuits


WASHINGTON — The postmaster general says he is halting some operational changes until after the November election.

Democrats contended that the changes threatened mail-in voting, and some states planned to file lawsuits. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday he would “suspend” his initiatives until after the election “to avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail.”

The crisis at the Postal Service has erupted as a major election year issue as DeJoy, a Trump ally who took control of the agency in June, has swiftly engineered cuts and operational changes that are disrupting mail delivery operations. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she doesn't trust the Postmaster. The House is pushing ahead with vote on legislation on the Postal Service.

Learn more here.

UA receives grant to improve access to cancer screenings in Indigenous communities


The University of Arizona received a $3 million grant last week to continue working with Indigenous communities to remove barriers around screenings for colorectal cancer.

The University of Arizona Cancer Center received the grant from the National Cancer Institute via the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, a project designed to increase cancer research. The center has applied and received previous grants to work with seven clinics that serve rural and urban Indigenous communities.

Public health professor Jennifer Hatcher is the principal investigator of the program in Arizona. She said the screening rate for Indigenous Americans in Arizona between the ages of 50-75 is as low as 25%, whereas the rate for the general U.S. population is approximately 80% .

Learn more here.

U.S. Under Pressure To Finish Border Wall Project As Election Nears

Fronteras Desk

Diesel trucks bearing dozens of tall steel posts wend their way off Interstate 10 toward southern Arizona’s sweeping Altar Valley southwest of Tucson. The lush green fields run up into the Baboquivari Mountains from a single state highway that ends at the Mexican border.

And along the dirt border road, cranes and trucks race to replace steel border wall segments first put up in the early 2000s with the newly arrived bollards. The project, costing upwards of $20 million per mile, is steadily proceeding as environmentalists, federal wildlife officials and people who live along the border warn that it’s disrupting resources, environments and ways of life. Against that backdrop is another local opinion: that a border wall here is long overdue.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation Rescinds Stay-At-Home-Order

Fronteras Desk

The Navajo Nation has rescinded its stay-at-home-order that’s been in place since March. Tribal President Jonathan Nez says, despite the rescindment, the emergency declaration is not ending, and visitors are still discouraged from coming.

“We recognize that we need to keep our Navajo people safe and vice versa our visitors safe. So we will not be opening our parks to our visitors," Nez said.

Nez is encouraging residents to only leave their homes for emergencies or essential activities and errands. Curfew hours and weekend lockdowns remain in effect.

In May, the Navajo Nation had the highest rate of COVID-19 infections per capita in the U.S.

Navajo Nation President Delivering DNC Keynote Speech On Tuesday

Fronteras Desk

The Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez is set to speak Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention.

Arizona Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai, whose district includes the Navajo community, says she is very happy that Nez will be speaking.

“I would like to hear him talk about the treaty obligations of the United States and keeping with the treaty obligations and honoring the sovereignty of tribal nations this time,” Peshlakai said.

Peshlakai also says there is a lot the country needs to learn about indigenous America and its history, and now is the time to put an end to stereotypes.

Dan Budnik, who photographed civil rights movement, dies


Acclaimed photographer Dan Budnik has died in Arizona at age 87. He's noted for documenting the civil rights movement and Native American culture. A nephew says Budnik died last Friday of natural causes at an assisted living facility in Tucson.

In 1958, Budnik photographed a youth march for integrated schools in the capital and the Selma to Montgomery March in Alabama in 1965. He's known for striking portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just moments after the “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington.

By the late 1960s, Budnik began to devote much of his time to Native American causes.

Learn more here.

Tucson woman walking her dog is bitten on leg by a javelina


Authorities say a Tucson woman is recovering after being bitten by a javelina. Arizona Game and Fish Department officials say the 29-year-old woman was walking her dog late Sunday night in the Catalina Foothills when she saw six javelina. One of the javelina charged the woman and bit one of her thighs, leaving her with a 6-inch gash.

The unidentified woman was treated at a hospital and given a rabies vaccine as a precaution.

Game and Fish officials say javelina don’t see well, but they have a strong sense of smell. And when javelinas smell a dog, they interpret it as a coyote and react instinctively. They say the Tucson area typically sees about two or three injuries from javelina every year.

Learn more here.

Trump angling for votes with immigration talk, nod to women


YUMA — President Donald Trump is grappling for votes and the spotlight as Democrats hold their national convention. The president visited Arizona after promising a pardon for suffragist leader Susan B. Anthony, who died in 1906.

In Arizona, one of the top 2020 battleground states. Trump is pressing his case against his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, painting him as radically left and out of the political mainstream. Trump is also contrasting his positions with Biden's on immigration, one of the most important issues to his political base.

He stopped in Iowa for an update on damage from last week's storm.

Learn more here.

McSally expresses concern about Trump-Kelly voters


PHOENIX — Republican Sen. Martha McSally expressed concern to GOP activists that some supporters of President Donald Trump may not vote for her. Her remarks at a campaign event last week are an indication of her struggles to avoid the defection of Republicans whose support she’ll need to keep her seat.

Answering a question from a supporter, McSally said some Trump supporters may be convinced by ads positioning her Democratic rival, Mark Kelly, as an independent.

McSally can’t afford to lose GOP voters again as she faces a tough battle against Kelly to hold onto John McCain’s former Senate seat. Her campaign has worked to remind Republicans that a Democratically controlled Senate would advance liberal priorities.

Learn more here.

Ballot drop boxes seen as a way to bypass the post office


PHOENIX — With the Trump administration openly trying to undermine mail-in voting this fall, some election officials around the country are hoping to bypass the Postal Service by installing lots of ballot drop boxes in libraries, community centers and other public places.

Such boxes have been used with success for several years in states like Oregon, Washington and Colorado that rely overwhelmingly or entirely on ballots that have to be sent in. But their use is being expanded because of the coronavirus outbreak and, more recently, concerns about the post office’s ability to do its job.

Learn more here.

Judge denies gyms' request for contempt order against Ducey


PHOENIX — A judge has refused a Phoenix-area health club chain’s request to hold Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in contempt after it challenged his order closing gyms to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason ruled late Monday there was no indication that Ducey’s reopening plan for gyms violated due process standards. He wrote that Mountain Fitness has not even given the process a chance to work.

In other developments, wind from a monsoon storm Monday night ripped apart an outdoor COVID-19 testing site in a parking lot in Mesa.

Learn more here.

Arizona school official to comply with US high court ruling


PHOENIX — The superintendent of one of two Arizona school districts put on notice by a national Latino rights group for asking about citizenship and Social Security numbers on student enrollment cards says officials have updated the forms and shredded previous ones.

Charie Wallace is superintendent of Coolidge Unified School District in Pinal County. She said Monday she is happy to comply with the demand Friday by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund to not include those questions for students and their families.

The 1982 Plyler vs. Doe decision said children should have access to public education regardless of immigration status.

Learn more here.

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