/ Modified oct 15, 2020 4:36 p.m.

News roundup: Arizona closes in on voter registration and census deadlines

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Oct. 15.

Cases 228,748 | Deaths 5,789

On Thursday, Oct. 15, Arizona reported 1,113 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 additional deaths. According to state data, intensive care unit bed usage by COVID-19 patients has been slightly increasing since late September, however it remains far below peak levels seen in mid-July.

Thursday marks last day to register to vote in Arizona


PHOENIX — Thursday marks the last day for Arizonans to register to vote in the Nov. 3 general election. A judge had extended the deadline until Oct. 23 after pandemic restrictions led to a decrease in voter registrations. An appeals court later ordered an early end to the extension, though it is allowing people until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday to register.

People who have already completed registrations during the extension period will be allowed to vote on Nov. 3. Arizona has recorded more than 47,000 new registrations since the deadline was extended.

Learn more here.

Scramble to get people counted as 2020 census winds down


Census advocates across the nation have been making last-ditch efforts to get as many households to answer the 2020 census. The tally has been mandated to halt at 11:59 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time on Thursday but questions still linger about deadlines and who gets counted when congressional seats are allotted.

Advocates are particularly worried that minorities, and people in rural and tribal areas, are going to be missed due to the rushed ending of the count. That would result in less federal funding for those communities and perhaps fewer congressional seats and electoral votes for states that have large minority populations.

Learn more here.

'Falling on deaf ears': Tohono O'odham Nation reacts to use of force at Indigenous protest


State and tribal leaders are speaking out against law enforcement use of force as scenes from an Indigenous-led demonstration this week continue to circulate.

As a dozen of states celebrated Indigenous Peoples' Day on Monday, around 30 demonstrators formed a blockade across a Border Patrol checkpoint north of the Lukeville Port of Entry on State Route 85, praying, singing and speaking against border wall construction.

Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers fired tear gas, smoke canisters and rubber bullets into the crowd when they refused to leave the roadway. Eleven people were arrested. They face misdemeanor charges of blocking a roadway and refusal to disperse. One faces a felony resisting arrest charge.

It’s the most intense escalation in a series of nonviolent demonstrations that O'odham organizers from the Tohono O’odham Nation and others have led for weeks against construction on ancestral land.

Learn more here.

25 judges to vote on? Start here.


There are 25 judges on the ballot in Pima County, and it's up to voters to decide whether they should keep their jobs. But many voters aren't sure how to judge a judge.

In Arizona, the governor appoints judges but voters decide whether to retain them. The unique role of judges as referees for democracy can make them particularly challenging to vet for voters considering whether they should retain a judge.

The Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review rates judges based on traits like legal ability, integrity and temperament. Since 1992, the commission has vetted judge candidates for approval by the governor.

Learn more here.

Trio of Mars missions to follow OSIRIS-REx on space exploration calendar


The University of Arizona backed OSIRIS-REx spacecraft makes its first attempt at collecting a soil sample from the asteroid Bennu next Tuesday. But space scientists say they won’t need to wait long before the next big moment in planetary exploration.

Mark Sykes of the Tucson-based Planetary Science Institute notes the skies above Mars will be crowded with new visitors from Earth early next year.

"The United Arab Emirates have one spacecraft, China, and the U-S has Mars 2020 on the way, all scheduled to arrive in February 2021," he said.

Learn more here.

Mexico’s Tourism Industry Gets Ready — And Anxious — To Fight The Pandemic

Fronteras Desk

Tourism is one of the main sources of income in Mexico, which is the most popular destination for U.S. travelers. And the Mexican tourism industry is trying to revive its once vibrant tourism sector. But the country’s tourism industry is struggling as it adapts to the pandemic’s “new normal.”

Since mid-July, the government is allowing hotels to operate only up to 30% of their capacity, following strict sanitizing rules and hygiene protocols.

But many people depend on the money out of the tourists’ pockets. And the ones arriving are not enough, while some recreational activities are still closed due to the pandemic.

Learn more here.

Kelly Campaign Staffer Disciplined After Profane Tweet Against Police

Fronteras Desk

Democratic candidate Mark Kelley’s Senate campaign came under fire Thursday after a conservative media site found that a deputy press secretary directed a profane tweet at law enforcement in Chicago last summer.

The campaign’s press office said it was unaware of the tweet until the criticism started Thursday. Last August, Timothy Jose L’Heureux used an expletive in calling out what he called "worthless pigs” in response to a video showing Chicago police officers clashing violently against demonstrators.

In response to questions from KJZZ News, Kelly’s staff said the candidate is the son of two police officers and that he found the tweet unacceptable.

The staffer apologized for his tweet and has since locked down his account and deleted the post.

Sonora Added Nearly 12,000 Formal Jobs In September

Fronteras Desk

In September, Sonora, the Mexican state to Arizona’s south, added nearly 12,000 formal jobs after months of losses.

The rise in Sonora was one of the largest nationwide, according to federal jobs data. It came after sustained monthly losses since February that totaled nearly 40,000 formal jobs during the pandemic. The figure does not include informal jobs, which account for a sizable portion of the workforce nationwide.

In recent months, many sectors of the economy have reopened, while new cases and deaths have been steadily trending downward, according to data tracked by the University of Sonora.

Navajo Nation finds 40 new cases of COVID-19, no new deaths


WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials are reporting 40 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 but no deaths. The figures released Wednesday night bring the total number of cases to 10,780 with the known death toll remaining at 571.

Tribal health officials said 113,985 people on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and 7,358 have recovered. A shelter-in-place order, mask mandate, daily curfews and weekend lockdowns remain in effect on the Navajo Nation.

Most people experience mild or moderate symptoms with the coronavirus, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.

Learn more here.

COVID cases at Arizona school send hundreds into quarantine


PHOENIX — A southern Arizona high school has closed temporarily after at least three people tested positive for the coronavirus. The Pinal County Public Health Department ordered the closure because of the number of people who are now required to quarantine.

Officials at Combs High School in San Tan Valley say about 450 students and 20 staff members were told to quarantine while the larger school district investigates what is considered an outbreak.

Arizona reported 1,113 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 17 new deaths. That brings the statewide total to 228,748 positive cases and 5,789 deaths.

Learn more here.

Kelly reports raising $39 million in Arizona Senate bid


PHOENIX — Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly says his campaign raised nearly $39 million during the third quarter. Kelly’s campaign announced Thursday that he ended September with about $19 million in the bank for the final month of the campaign for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Republican Sen. Martha McSally has not yet reported her latest fundraising figures.

Kelly’s fundraising was driven in part by a surge in donations following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which spurred Democrats around the country to flood competitive Senate races with cash. Kelly's latest haul brings his total raised since the start of the campaign to $83 million.

Learn more here.

Researchers discover fossils of new species in Arizona


PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK — Researchers studying fossils among a vast expanse of petrified wood in eastern Arizona say they've found a new species. The tiny, burrowing reptile is part of a group known as drepanosaurs from the Triassic Period about 220 million years ago. It's name is Skybalonyx skapter.

Researchers from the Petrified National Park and universities in Virginia, Washington, Idaho and Arizona published their findings earlier this month in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. They say the new species is stranger than its relatives because it has claws that allow it to burrow, rather than climb and live in trees.

Learn more here.

Vandals damage 8 cactuses at Tucson's Saguaro National Park


Rangers at Saguaro National Park’s west district in Tucson say eight cactuses have been slashed or cut down in an act of vandalism. They say the slow-growing cactuses were damaged around Oct. 3 and left along the Scenic Trail. The saguaros ranged in height from 1 foot to 10 feet.

Rangers would like to hear from anyone who visited the Scenic Trail, Passey Loop Trails or the Scenic Drive Trailhead around Oct. 3 and might have information about the incident.

Learn more here.

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