Cases 235,882 | Deaths 5,865
On Friday, Oct. 23, Arizona reported 975 new cases of COVID-19 and 6 additional deaths. Arizona has experienced high average daily case numbers in the past week, though they remain lower than the summer spike, according to the Associated Press.
Exploring the myth of monolithic voting blocs
Political campaigns often target specific voter groups—like women, Latinos or Catholics. But how uniform are the voters within that assumed category?
This week The Buzz digs into the idea of "monolithic voting blocs" with a look at those unified by their religion, race or sex. Despite being groups together by politicians, most of these “blocs” are divided by party lines, not by identity.
Listen to the full episode here.
Latino Trump supporters, 2020 census participation, edible insects
President Trump held back-to-back rallies in Tucson and Prescott this week and as most polls show him trailing rival nominee Joe Biden, part of his campaign’s strategy has been to engage Latino voters. Tony Paniagua spoke to Latino supporters about their decision to re-elect Trump. He also heard from Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, who is encouraging the same voting bloc to back Biden.
NASA made history this week when the unmanned spacecraft OSIRIS-REx collected an asteroid sample in a mission led by researchers at the University of Arizona. Christopher Conover spoke to principal investigator Dante Lauretta about the milestone and the mission’s next steps.
With the conclusion of the 2020 Census, Arizona 360 hears from Alec Thomson, executive director of the Arizona Complete Count Committee. Southern Arizona Community Foodbank CEO Michael McDonald discusses what the need for services has been like over the last several months during the pandemic. Tony Paniagua reports on how researchers at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are currently devising solutions to increased demands on Earth’s food supplies.
Watch the full episode here.
Ballot counting is underway in Pima County
With counting underway, nearly 180,000 early ballots had been counted in Pima County by Friday morning, according to local election officials.
An additional 50,000 ballots were also waiting for verification before being counted. Ballots are sent to the Elections Department by the Recorder’s Office after signatures are verified. Counties can county early ballots two weeks before Election Day.
More than 500,000 early ballots were mailed out in Pima County, but election officials are not concerned about counting capacity.
“It looks like we are getting approximately 30-35,000 per day. We are able to count 50-60,000 per day once they’ve gone through the verification process,” said Brad Nelson, Pima County Election director.
Nelson said he expects that thousands of early ballots will be turned in on Election Day. Those ballots will not be counted until their signatures are verified.
Judge denies early voting site within Pascua Yaqui tribal lands
An Arizona federal judge ruled Thursday that there will not be early voting or a ballot drop box in the Pascua Yaqui Tribe's reservation Oct. 26-30.
Judge James A. Soto denied the motion, stating that "compelling the Pima County Recorder to set up a last-minute Early Voting Site would cause substantial hardship to the recorder’s ability to properly administer the election, and would hurt the public interest inasmuch it would detrimentally impact the ongoing 2020 General Election in Pima County."
The Pascua Yaqui Tribe filed the lawsuit against Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez Oct. 12, saying the closure of the early in-person voting site in the reservation diminished the tribal members' living in the reservation opportunity to vote compared with non-tribal members in Pima County.
Security change at Tucson early voting sites
Officers with the Tucson Police Department will no longer be working at early voting sites within Tucson city limits.
Instead, they will patrol nearby so they can quickly respond to any problems, according to a statement from the department.
Before the change, the Pima County Recorder’s Office arranged for officers to be at polling locations.
On Wednesday, a coalition of 11 groups including the League of Women Voters, All Voting is Local, Phoenix Indian Center, and Voter Protection Corps sent a letter to Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez and Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson complaining about the officers.
Arizona, US unemployment headed in opposite directions
Arizona’s first-time unemployment claims eclipsed 100,000 for the first time in months, according to the state Department of Economic Security’s weekly report.
Last week 109,000 Arizona residents filed unemployment claims. All but 2,800 of those claims came through the federally supported Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. That program is open to the self-employed who do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits.
The first-time claims filed last week were the highest since May, with the exception of the week of June 13.
Regular unemployment claims in Arizona continue to hover near prepandemic levels.
Nationwide, 787,000 people filed first-time unemployment claims. That was a drop of 55,000 when compared with the week before.
See an interactive graph of unemployment numbers here.
DHS head touts immigration policy at Arizona sheriffs' roundtable
Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was in Phoenix on Thursday for an Arizona sheriffs' roundtable about the Trump administration’s immigration policies and border enforcement efforts, the latest in a handful of recent addresses by the official.
Wolf touted a series of immigration policy changes, including programs like the Migrant Protection Protocols.
Enacted at the beginning of 2019, the mandate sends migrants with U.S. immigration hearings back to Mexico to wait for their day in court. Wolf said the policy has impacted more than 65,000 people.
But human rights advocates on the ground say the policy is anything but safe.
Major Sonoran Union Threatens Statewide Strike
A major Sonoran union is threatening a statewide strike in support of bus drivers in Hermosillo.
The Sonoran branch of the Mexican Workers Confederation (CTM), which has roughly 130,000 members, says it will strike on Nov. 10. That is unless a conflict between drivers and the company that operates Hermosillo’s bus service is resolved. The drivers had themselves been threatening to go on strike over pay cuts, but the action was blocked by state officials.
The drivers are also CTM members.
Business leaders have called the threat dangerous, given the precarious state of the economy amid the ongoing pandemic.
Mexico And U.S. Settle Water Conflict Near The Border
MEXICO CITY — A 1940s water agreement between Mexico and the U.S. recently ignited a protest by farmworkers in a Mexican border state southeast of Arizona. But despite the controversy, the Mexican government is saying the deal has been settled.
Farmworkers took control of a dam in the state of Chihuahua a few weeks ago. They argue most of the water from a local river is being sent to the U.S. under the agreement, affecting their crops.
But president Andrés Manuel López Obrador says the agreement won’t affect the local communities, and that a solution has been negotiated.
López Obrador thanked the U.S. government for reaching an agreement in which border towns in Mexico won’t be affected. He said part of the deal will include humanitarian aid from the U.S. in case of a water shortage in Mexico.
Arizona reports 975 additional COVID cases as rise continues
PHOENIX — Arizona health officials on Friday reported an additional 975 known COVID-19 cases and six more deaths. That brings the state’s totals to 235,882 cases and 5,865 deaths.
The cases reported by the Department of Health Services made Friday the fourth day this week that the state’s daily case report topped 900.
Arizona in recent weeks has seen a gradual increase in COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations but levels remain well below the thousands of cases reported some days in June and July when Arizona was a national hot spot. The outbreak diminished in August and September as many local governments imposed mask mandates and the state reimposed some business restrictions.
Arizona courts ready for late Election Day legal wrangling
PHOENIX — Arizona’s top judge is ordering state trial courts in each county to remain open until polls close on Election Day so they can handle last-minute filings in possible election-related cases.
Thursday's order from Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel says the Superior Courts and their clerks’ offices need to remain open and available “to ensure prompt consideration of any legal dispute regarding voting.” Brutinel also ordered the Superior Courts to notify the clerks of the state Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court if they receive an election-related case.
Top Democrats sue over Arizona redistricting panel list
PHOENIX — Democratic leaders of the Arizona Legislature say two of five independents chosen by a judicial panel to chair a commission to redraw political districts next year are not legally eligible.
A lawsuit filed Friday by House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez and Senate Minority Leader David Bradley alleges the state Commission on Appellate Court Appointments failed to do its duty under the state Constitution to properly vet the candidates. They want the two nominees replaced with qualified people.
Republican Senate President Karen Fann says she expected Democrats to sue over “something, if not everything.”
Commission nominates 6 for Arizona appeals court
PHOENIX — Three judges and three other attorneys have been nominated for appointment by Gov. Doug Ducey to fill a state Court of Appeals opening.
The nominees recommended by the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments include Mohave County Superior Court Judge Rick Williams, Commissioner Joseph Goldstein and Judge Pro Tem Christopher Kottke, both of Yavapai County Superior Court. The other nominees are Prescott attorney Andrew Becke, Chandler lawyer Veronika Fabian and Brian Furuya, a deputy county attorney for Coconino County.
The opening in the Phoenix-based division of the Court of Appeals was created by the retirement of Judge Kenton Jones.
Census takers fall short of target goal in areas of US
From tribal lands in the Southwest to storm-battered Louisiana, the U.S. Census Bureau did not achieve its goal of reaching 99% of households during the 2020 census. Census takers only reached 94% of households in parts of Louisiana. In the Navajo Nation capital of Window Rock, Arizona, census takers only reached 98.9%.
Overall, the Census Bureau says it did reach 99.9% of the nation's households — but in a nation of 330 million people, the missing .1% still represents hundreds of thousands of uncounted residents. In small cities, even handfuls of undercounted residents can make a big difference in the resources the communities receive.
Community activists and civil rights groups say racial and ethnic minorities are historically undercounted.