/ Modified feb 24, 2021 3:53 p.m.

News roundup: Mobile vaccine clinics return, Navajo Nation surpasses Feb vaccine goal

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Feb. 24.

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 811,968 | Deaths 15,693

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, Arizona reported 1,310 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 additional deaths.

Mobile vaccination clinics return this weekend


Vaccine shipments delayed by severe weather have arrived in Pima County making it possible to resume COVID vaccinations to underserved areas this weekend. But county officials are not saying in advance where the weekend pop-up sites will be open.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francisco Garcia said Tuesday that vaccine equity remains a priority for Pima County. That is, making sure that all residents, no matter their circumstances, have access to the potentially lifesaving vaccine.

So this weekend the Pima County Health Department will once again have three mobile clinics operating in areas convenient to people who can't easily make it into central Tucson. But Garcia says the locations will not be announced until the day before, to ensure the limited supply remains available to people in the targeted areas.

Learn more here.

The Navajo Nation has its exceeded vaccination goal for February


The Navajo Nation exceeded its goal to administer 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of February. Now it's aiming for 120,000 by the end of the month.

Tribal officials reported Thursday that 104,974 doses had been administered. Since then, they have continued to advertise vaccination events across the reservation that is the size of West Virginia.

Dr. Chris Percy, the Community Health Director of the Northern Navajo Medical Center, said 84% of elders over the age of 65 have been vaccinated, along with 37% of people over the age of 16. The Navajo Department of Health reports it's vaccinating people in Phase 1B now.

Learn more here.

Arizona changes 'use it or lose it' water law


A change in Arizona water law will let farmers and ranchers conserve water without worrying about losing their rights to it in the future.

Like most western states, Arizona water rights are "use it or lose it," meaning that if farmers or ranchers don't use their full amount for a certain number of years they risk forfeiting their rights forever.

A bill signed last week by Governor Doug Ducey allows for water users to enter into a voluntary conservation plan with the Arizona Department of Water Resources that keeps their water right protected. Users can conserve water for up to 10 years without losing their rights.

Learn more here.

City council considers hair discrimination ban


Tucson may soon become the tenth city in the country to bar discrimination based on a person's natural hair style. The city council voted Tuesday to draft an ordinance that prevents employers and schools from forcing someone to cut or restyle their hair.

Desiree Cook, a Tucson stylist and founder of the non-profit "I Am You 360" said for many people their hair is connected to their identity.

"I just ask that you be open-minded, mayor and council, to actually allow people to adorn their crown and enhance their crown because it is a form of honoring our ancestors and our culture,” Cook said.

The law she supports is called the CROWN Act, which stands for "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair." The movement took root after multiple reports of African-American and Indigenous people being required to change their hairstyle in order to obtain work or join school activities.

The ordinance will come up for adoption at a later council meeting.

Conversation with health expert in the Navajo Nation about COVID-19


At the beginning of the pandemic the Navajo Nation was hit extremely hard. At one point, it had the highest rate of COVID-19 infections per capita in the country.

AZPM’s Emma Gibson spoke with Dr. Jill Jim. She's the executive director of the Navajo Department of Health and served as a COVID-19 advisor to President Joe Biden during the transition.

Listen to the full interview here.

Arizona reports 1,310 additional COVID-19 cases, 43 deaths


PHOENIX — Arizona has reported 1,310 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and 43 deaths as related hospitalizations and seven-day rolling averages for daily new cases and daily deaths continued to drop.

The latest figures reported Wednesday by the state Department of Health Services increased Arizona’s pandemic totals to 811,968 cases and 15,693 deaths.

The CVS pharmacy chain says as of Thursday it will provide coronavirus vaccinations by appointment to eligible populations at eight Arizona locations.

Meanwhile, records show that over 220 vaccine doses in Arizona have been spoiled or wasted since the rollout began in December. The lost doses were reported by dozens of health care providers from mostly smaller counties.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports 20 new COVID-19 cases, 7 more deaths


WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials have reported 20 new confirmed COVID-19 cases with seven additional deaths.

The latest numbers released Tuesday night bring the total number of cases on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to 29,576 since the pandemic began. There have been 1,152 reported deaths that were related to COVID-19.

The Navajo Department of Health on Monday identified 21 communities with uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 from Feb. 5-18. That’s an increase from last week’s 15 communities, but down from 75 communities with uncontrolled coronavirus spread last month.

Learn more here.

Crisis over Mexican Indigenous blockade after protester dies


MEXICO CITY — The conflict over highway blockades by members of the Yaqui group in northern Mexico has come to a head with the death of an Indigenous man killed by a trucker at a roadblock.

The Yaquis have been protesting for years over land and water being taken by outsiders. But businessmen and truckers in Sonora state complained Tuesday of abuse and violence at roadblocks. Some truckers say protesters demand money to allow them to travel a main highway that leads to the industrial hub of Hermosillo, and from there to the U.S. border.

Learn more here.

Bill to purge Arizona permanent early voting list revived


PHOENIX — The Arizona Senate has revived a stalled bill that would purge about 200,000 people from a list of voters who automatically get mail ballots.

The measure died on the Senate floor last week when Republican Sen. Paul Boyer joined all 14 Democrats in opposition, holding it short of a majority. But a Senate committee revived the proposal on Tuesday and Boyer says his concerns have been addressed.

The measure would end the popular permanent early voting list, requiring people to vote at least once in every two election cycles to stay on the list. Voting rights advocates say the bill is a voter-suppression tactic by Republicans.

Learn more here.

Audits find no problems with Arizona election equipment


PHOENIX — Two independent audits of election equipment in Arizona’s most populous county found no modified software, malicious software or incorrect counting equipment, and none of the computers or equipment were connected to the internet.

However, the state Senate still wants its own audit and a judge will decide if it gets access to ballots and other materials Republican lawmakers are seeking.

The audit results released by Maricopa County on Tuesday also included an additional “logic and accuracy test” confirming multiple earlier tests overseen by the county and the Arizona secretary of state’s office that found the tabulation equipment properly counted votes.

Learn more here.

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