/ Modified mar 10, 2021 3:53 p.m.

News roundup: Aid groups face increase in minors at border, Tucson budget town hall meetings approach

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, March 10.

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 828,630 | Deaths 16,404

On Wednesday, March 10, Arizona reported 830 new cases of COVID-19 and 78 additional deaths. The number of positive COVID tests finding the virus variant first identified in Britain has increased in Arizona, the Associated Press reports.

Aid groups in Arizona ramp up efforts to host migrants and coordinate care


Amid an increase in apprehensions near the U.S.-Mexico border, Arizona cities are seeing more migrants arriving after being processed.

Officials began releasing migrants into Yuma County in February, citing concerns with holding large groups of people for an extended period of time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Customs and Border Protection officials say they're returning to an old policy in which people are processed and served a Notice to Appear before being released and allowed to await immigration hearings with family or sponsors.

But in Yuma County, there’s no shelter in the area to house them while they make those travel arrangements. Teresa Cavandish with the Tucson shelter Casa Alitas said that’s one reason her facility stepped in to help.

Learn more here.

Tucson city budget town hall


The City of Tucson's budget for the next fiscal year is up for debate, and city officials would like to hear how residents want the money spent.

The city has broken up budget discussions into four virtual town halls. The first of which is Thursday at 5:30 p.m., and it'll focus on infrastructure and mobility. Residents can register for the town hall here.

The discussion between the public and city leaders will be moderated.

Learn more here.

Council suspends Reid Park Zoo project


The Tucson City Council voted Tuesday to put the brakes on a proposed expansion of Reid Park Zoo. The pause gives various interest groups time to come together to discuss a compromise:

When Tucson voters approved a sales tax increase in 2017, the money was earmarked for capital improvements for the Reid Park Zoo.

Council member Karin Uhlich says voters didn't necessarily know that those capital improvements would include a three and a half acre expansion to the zoo, reducing the park's open space. If they did, she said, "then a whole lot of more people would have engaged, I think, because they would have realized this is impacting the park writ large."

Learn more here.

Conversation with Arlando Teller about transportation in tribal lands


Former Arizona State Representative Arlando S. Teller, who is a member of the Navajo Nation, resigned in January after accepting a job with the U.S. Department of Transportation as the deputy assistant secretary for tribal affairs.

Arizona Public Media’s Emma Gibson spoke with the former state lawmaker about his new job and his legacy in Arizona.

Listen to the full interview here.

Tucson council reappoints judge panned by review commission


The Tucson City Council has unanimously voted to reappoint a city magistrate whom a review commission had unanimously said shouldn’t get another term.

The City Magistrate Merit Selection Commission on Feb. 11 made a rare recommendation for a council vote against reappointing Magistrate Geraldine Hale.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that Mayor Regina Romero said she wanted to know more about the commission’s process but thought it was unfortunate there was what Romero called “a blatant campaign" against Hale.

The commission had said dozens of lawyers and judges said Hale had an erratic temperament, didn't provide due process to defendants and lacked basic legal knowledge.

Learn more here.

Arizona reports 78 COVID-19 deaths after 2 days with none


PHOENIX — Arizona has reported 830 new COVID-19 cases and 78 deaths, ending a two-day period that saw no additional deaths confirmed.

The Department of Health Services released the latest figures Wednesday. The number of hospitalizations has continued to drop, with COVID-19 patients occupying 868 beds as of Tuesday. That's about a sixth of the pandemic peak on Jan. 11.

Meanwhile, the director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University says laboratory data shows a recent rise in the rate of positive tests that have a COVID-19 variant first identified in Britain. He says the variant is not predominant in Arizona but it’s a minority strain that’s growing.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports 12 new COVID-19 cases and 1 more death


WINDOW ROCK — The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported 12 additional COVID-19 cases and one more death from the virus as a downward trend in infections and hospitalizations continues.

The latest numbers pushed the tribe’s totals to 29,887 confirmed cases and 1,204 known deaths since the pandemic began a year ago.

Also on Tuesday, the Navajo Department of Health identified eight communities with uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 compared with 75 communities having an uncontrolled spread in January.

Health facilities on the reservation and in border towns are conducting drive-thru vaccine events or administering doses by appointment. A daily curfew from 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. and a mask mandate remain in effect for residents of the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Learn more here.

Congress Members Call On Biden To Recall Troops From Border Deployment, Razor Wire

Fronteras Desk

Members of Congress have asked the Biden administration to recall nearly 4,000 troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border under former President Trump.

The letter was signed by 22 members of Congress, including southern Arizona Democrat Raúl Grijalva.

President Biden ended the emergency declaration for the border region that Trump initiated in 2019 but the troops remained and so far, there’s been no information from the Pentagon or Homeland Security that that will change.

The letter also calls on Biden’s administration to strip the concertina wire welded to the border wall in urban stretches like Nogales, Arizona.

Western states chart diverging paths as water shortages loom


SALT LAKE CITY — Legislation in Utah is raising concerns as seven Western states prepare to negotiate how to sustain a river that supplies 40 million people and a massive agricultural industry.

The states share in the realization that they likely won't get what they were promised from the Colorado River a century ago. But legislation awaiting approval from Utah's governor creates an entity that could push for more of the state's share.

Critics say it could strengthen the effort to complete an expensive pipeline from a dwindling reservoir that’s a key indicator of the river’s health. Meanwhile, states have conservation in mind as they pass laws focused on safeguarding other water supplies.

Learn more here.

US reports surge of kids at SW border, a challenge for Biden


WASHINGTON — The number of migrant children and families seeking to cross the southwest border of the U.S. has surged to levels not seen since before the pandemic.

That's presenting a challenge for President Joe Biden as he works to undo the restrictive immigration policies of his predecessor.

Statistics released Wednesday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection show the number of children and families increasing by more than 100% between January and February. The number of kids crossing by themselves has risen 60% to more than 9,400, forcing the government to look for new places to hold them temporarily amid the pandemic.

Learn more here.

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