/ Modified oct 16, 2020 4:35 p.m.

News roundup: TEP renewables and rate changes, border security amid pandemic

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Oct. 16.

Cases 229,486 | Deaths 5,806

On Friday, Oct. 16, the state reported 738 new cases of novel coronavirus and 17 additional deaths. Arizona’s average daily case number has increased in recent weeks, according to the Associated Press.

Mayor Romero reminds Trump campaign of COVID-19 safety guidelines ahead of rally


Tucson mayor Regina Romero sent the Trump campaign a letter in advance of the president’s campaign rally at Tucson International Airport Monday.

The letter welcomes the president and the campaign to Tucson and then reminds them that Tucson requires people to wear masks if they gather in large groups and physical distancing is not possible.

The mid-afternoon event comes two weeks after the president canceled a previous event due to his positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

The mayor also reminded the campaign that they still owe the city $80,000 for a 2016 event at the Tucson Convention Center.

Tucson Electric Power looks to expand renewables, raise customer rates

The Buzz

Earlier this year Tucson Electric Power announced it would dramatically increase its renewable energy sources, with plans to get 70% of its power from renewables by 2035. The utility is also seeking to raise rates for customers, partly to pay for those projects. And lately TEP has garnered controversy in central Tucson where it plans to build a large transmission line through or near historic neighborhoods.

This week The Buzz digs into all those topics with TEP spokespeople and its critics, including members of the Sierra Club and Tucson community members.

Listen to the full episode here.

Border security, ballot propositions explained, COVID-19 trends & schools

Arizona 360

Lorraine Rivera has a one-on-one interview with Customs and Border Protection’s Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan to discuss Title 42, ongoing wall construction and criticisms about its environmental impacts.

The Kino Border Initiative provides humanitarian aid to deportees and migrants in Nogales, Sonora. The nonprofit’s Tracy Horan describes how it has adjusted its services during the pandemic and the added challenges it has created for asylum seekers.

Tony Paniagua looks into Propositions 207 and 208 and hears from supporters and opponents of each measure.

As more schools welcome students back into the classroom, Arizona 360 gets an update from Pima County Health Department head Dr. Theresa Cullen about current COVID-19 trends in the county and emerging patterns related to the spread of the virus in schools. Dr. Chan Lowe, division chief of pediatrics at Banner – University Medicine, explains how the disease affects children and common symptoms.

Watch the full episode here.

Tucson's Cafe Poca Cosa closes after decades


The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed one of Tucson's most celebrated restaurants.

Cafe Poca Cosa announced Thursday it will close permanently. The Mexican bistro opened in the '80s and moved downtown in 1989.

In a press release, owner and founder Suzana Davila said between the fixed cost of rent, the rising costs of food and restrictive seating limits, she didn't see a profitable way forward.

The restaurant has been closed since March.

Davila said the decision is made with great sadness, and that this is not how she would've liked to see her life's work end.

Full-service restaurants have been hit particularly hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many in Tucson depend on busy winter seasons to make up for a sales lull in the summer. With tourism down and Washington unable to agree on a relief package, many in the industry are expecting further closures.

Democrats in Arizona out front in two polls


Arizona Democrats at the top of the ballot have the lead over their Republican rivals, according to two polls released Thursday.

The polls by Monmouth University and OH Predictive Insights show Mark Kelly leading Martha McSally in the race for U.S. Senate and Joe Biden leading Donald Trump in the race for the White House.

The polls have margins of error between 4% and 4.4%.

Learn more here.

Hearing scheduled in Pascua Yaqui voting site lawsuit


The Pascua Yaqui Tribe filed a lawsuit against Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez earlier this week for not reinstating an early in-person voting site in the tribe's reservation. The evidentiary hearing is scheduled for Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe has advocated for the recorder's office to reopen the early voting site since the recorder closed it in 2018 about a month before the August primary election.

The closest early in-person voting site for those living in the reservation is about 7 miles away at the Mission Public Library. Tribal leaders said since car ownership in the reservation is lower than that of the general public, it can take some voters an hour to get to the library via public transportation.

Rodriguez said she initially closed the site due to low voter turnout and lack of security.

Your Vote 2020
Read more coverage of national, Arizona, and local elections at our 2020 elections portal, Your Vote 2020.

Mexico Works On International Agreements For COVID-19 Vaccines

Fronteras Desk

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wants to create a state-owned company to distribute medicine throughout Mexico, including the vaccine.

His administration promises to guarantee and facilitate access to the vaccine to the 120 million people living in Mexico, in an equitable and nonprofit manner.

Mexico’s secretary of foreign affairs has established bilateral agreements with pharmaceutical companies from the U.K., China, Russia and the U.S., among others, to guarantee access to the vaccine.

This week, Mexico signed pre-purchase contracts with three pharmaceutical companies for almost 80 million doses of vaccine, expected to be available between March and August of 2021.

Arizona's daily average for virus cases still rising


PHOENIX — Arizona continues to see a slow yet steady increase in the average number of coronavirus cases reported each day as a decline that lasted through August and September reverses.

The state Health Services Department on Friday reported 738 new virus cases, bringing the total since the pandemic hit to 228,486. The state also reported 17 new deaths, bringing the total to 5,806. The 7-day rolling average is now at more than 750, up from below 500 on Oct. 1.

Arizona was a national hotspot for the virus in June and early July, with more than 3,000 new cases a day regularly being reported.

Learn more here.

Court rejects bid to extend ballot counting on Navajo Nation


PHOENIX — An appeals court has refused to give an extra 10 days after Election Day to count ballots mailed by Navajo Nation members living on the Arizona portion of the tribe’s reservation. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a later deadline would burden officials who wouldn’t be able to tell from ballots whether voters are members of the tribe.

The court said Navajos who sought the extension because of slow mail delivery on the reservation had no legal standing to sue and raised questions about the difficulty of using information on ballots to try to distinguish between Navajos living on tribal lands and other voters.

Learn more here.

Virus cases at Arizona school send hundreds into quarantine


PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey says schools should maintain options for parents whether they prefer in-person or online instruction for their children. Ducey spoke Thursday after touring a Phoenix charter school with U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

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.

Learn more here.

Kelly raises $39 million, McSally $23 million in Senate race


PHOENIX — Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly says his campaign raised nearly $39 million during the third quarter, while Republican Sen. Martha McSally reports raising almost $23 million. The fundraising numbers reported Thursday shattered prior records for both candidates and were among the largest quarterly hauls ever reported.

Senate candidates saw a surge in donations following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s pledge to confirm a replacement before President Donald Trump leaves office.

Kelly’s campaign ended September with about $19 million in the bank. McSally reported $12 million for the final month of the campaign.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation lowering flags to honor late tribal president


WINDOW ROCK — All flags on the Navajo Nation will be flown at half-staff through Monday in honor of former tribal President Thomas Atcitty. The 86-year-old Atcitty died Sunday in New Mexico.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer issued the proclamation for the flag lowering that is set to begin Friday morning.

Atcitty was the tribe’s vice president from 1995-1998 and served as president for five months in 1998. He also served seven terms as a New Mexico state representative from 1980-1994. From 1972-1977, Atcitty was the president of Navajo Community College, the first tribal college on a Native American reservation. It later became Diné College.

The Navajo Nation extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Learn more here.

Justices to weigh Trump census plan to exclude noncitizens


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has agreed to take up President Donald Trump’s policy, blocked by a lower court, to exclude people living in the U.S. illegally from the census count that will be used to allocate seats in the House of Representatives.

Never in U.S. history have immigrants been excluded from the population count that determines how House seats, and by extension Electoral College votes, are divided among the states, a three-judge federal count said in September when it held Trump’s policy illegal.

The justices put the case on a fast track, setting arguments for December. A decision is expected by the end of the year or early in January, when Trump has to report census numbers to the House.

Learn more here.

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