/ Modified jan 21, 2021 5:38 p.m.

News roundup: Vaccine shortage threatens Pima County, local curfew paused by courts

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Jan. 21.

Arizona COVID-19 cases: 7 days

Map shows COVID-19 cases and case rates over the week preceding the last update.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: The New York Times, based on reports from state and local health agencies, Census Bureau. Case reports do not correspond to day of test.

Cases 699,942 | Deaths 11,772

On Thursday, Jan. 21, Arizona reported 9,398 new cases of COVID-19 and 244 additional deaths.

Pima County faces COVID-19 vaccine shortage


Pima County has vaccinated more than 42,000 people against COVID-19 with more than 11,000 of that group receiving both doses of the vaccine. But there is a looming crisis.

“If our vaccinators do not get more vaccine stock from the state, we could be done with the existing stock that we have on hand by as early as next Friday,” said Dr. Francisco Garcia, Chief Medical Officer for Pima County.

This week, Pima County opened additional mass vaccinations sites at the Tucson Convention Center and the University of Arizona as well as smaller sites in Green Valley, Ajo, and Marana. Those locations were opened to ensure that county residents can get the vaccine as quickly as possible but a shrinking vaccine supply is holding up that goal.

Learn more here.

Pima County curfew on hold


Pima County’s 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew was at least temporarily halted by a superior court judge.

The ruling by Judge Kellie Johnson issued Tuesday night, puts the curfew on hold. Owners of a number of local bars sued the county claiming it did not have the legal authority to put the curfew in place.

The business owners claimed that the curfew violates Governor Doug Ducey’s Executive Order which prohibits local governments from enacting COVID-19 related laws that are more stringent than state regulations.

The judge issued a stay, temporarily banning the county from enforcing the curfew, until the matter is fully settled by the court. The county plans to appeal.

Learn more here.

Rep. Grijalva to introduce new COVID-19 relief bill for border businesses


COVID-19 has had far reaching impacts on border communities. Arizona counties like Yuma and Santa Cruz have seen some of the highest positivity rates in the state, and businesses have suffered too. But some relief may soon be on the way with a new bill focused on border businesses from Southern Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva.

Under the provision, small businesses within 25 miles of either the U.S.-Mexico border or the U.S.-Canadian border can apply for loans of up to $500,000 from the Small Business Administration. They could also apply for emergency, forgivable grants of up to $10,000.

Both borders have been closed to non-essential travel since the beginning of the pandemic last March — Customs and Border Protection data shows that closure has reduced traffic across Arizona ports by about 25%.

Learn more here.

Vaccinations of TUSD staff gets underway


With vaccinations for educational staff underway, the Tucson Unified School District is laying the groundwork to return some students to their classrooms this semester.

In its vaccination effort, TUSD superintendent Gabriel Trujillo says the district is prioritizing current on-campus workers in order of age.

This week, the Pima County Health Department guaranteed TUSD employees 780 vaccination slots, though it may take over a week to carry those vaccinations out, Trujillo says.

While the district has not finalized any dates or plans to reopen, Trujillo says that the district is considering a staggered approach to bringing kids back to classrooms. That means some grades would return before others.

Learn more here.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers weighs its authority over Rosemont Mine


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is thinking of relinquishing its authority over the Rosemont Mine and it recently rescinded an offer to include tribes before making its final decision.

If the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does relinquish its authority on the proposed Rosemont Mine, the need for the Clean Water Act permit and its protections to the local watershed will no longer apply It could herald the nearby Tucson mine's development.

Stu Gillespie, the lawyer representing the Tohono O'odham Nation, and Pascua Yaqui and Hopi tribes, said without the legal requirements embedded in the Clean Water Act, mine construction would destroy more burial sites, cultural resources, historical villages and the watershed in the area.

Learn more here.

Legislature looks at voter roll maintenance


Legislative Republicans want the state to compare names of those who have died compared to the voter rolls on an annual basis.

House Bill 2054 would require the Secretary of State to compare the two lists once a year. Current law requires the counties to make the comparison once a month.

The bill passed on an 8-5 vote. Democrats said it was unnecessary because the law already requires the month check.

The proposal still must be approved by the full House and Senate.

Learn more here.

‘It’s Good For Mexico’: AMLO Welcomes Biden Administration Immigration Reforms

Fronteras Desk

Wishing President Joe Biden well Wednesday, Mexico’s president urged the new administration to immediately fulfill campaign promises to enact immigration reform, including dual citizenship for Mexicans working in the United States.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador praised Biden’s plans to prioritize pandemic relief, economic reactivation and most importantly immigration reform.

López Obrador thanked Donald Trump for his treatment of Mexico while in office. But says he has no doubt he’ll also enjoy a good relationship with President Biden — whose White House has released details of proposed immigration reforms that include a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people.

Learn more here.

Arizona reports nearly 9,400 more virus cases, 244 deaths


PHOENIX — Arizona, the state with the worst COVID-19 diagnosis rate in the country, reported nearly 9,400 additional confirmed cases on Thursday as the number of hospitalizations continued to drop from a recent pandemic high.

The Department of Health Services reported 9,398 additional known cases and 244 additional deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 699,942 cases and 11,772 deaths.

There were 4,580 hospitalized COVID-19 patients occupying inpatient beds as of Wednesday, down from the Jan. 11 record of 5,082.

Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases declined from 8,884.4 on Jan. 6 to 6,973.6 on Wednesday.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports 94 new COVID-19 cases, 11 more deaths


WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials on Wednesday reported 94 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths. The latest figures bring the total reported coronavirus cases on the reservation to 26,612 with 933 known deaths.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says residents still need to remain vigilant and practice health safety measures like staying home.

The number of infections is thought to be higher than reported because many people haven’t been tested. Studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Tribal officials say more than 225,000 people on the vast reservation have been tested for COVID-19 and nearly 14,000 have recovered. The Navajo Nation extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Learn more here.

Biden halts border wall building after Trump's final surge


SAN DIEGO — President Joe Biden has ordered a “pause” on all border wall construction within a week, one of 17 executive orders he issued on his first day in office.

The move Wednesday leaves projects throughout the border unfinished but still under contract after his predecessor, Donald Trump, worked feverishly to successfully to build 450 miles.

In Arizona, crews have been blasting dynamite in remote mountains to complete work. In Texas, construction equipment lay idle Thursday. In San Diego, work continued at an iconic cross-border park overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which then-first lady Pat Nixon inaugurated in 1971 as a symbol of international friendship.

Learn more here.

Immigrants cheered by possible citizenship path under Biden


HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Immigrants are cheering President Joe Biden’s plan to provide a path to U.S. citizenship for about 11 million people without legal status.

From Phoenix to New York and rural Florida, immigrants mixed their hopes with guarded optimism amid a seismic shift in how the American government views and treats them.

The newly inaugurated president moved Wednesday to reverse four years of harsh restrictions and mass deportation with a plan for sweeping legislation on citizenship. He also issued executive orders reversing some of former President Donald Trump’s key immigration policies.

Learn more here.

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