/ Modified mar 29, 2021 9:56 p.m.

News roundup: TUSD reports from first week back, Sonoran officials die in plane crash on way to Tucson

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, March 29.

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 840,492 | Deaths 16,918

On Monday, March 29, Arizona reported 604 new cases of COVID-19, but no new deaths.

First week back goes ‘tremendously smooth’ TUSD superintendent says


The Tucson Unified School District welcomed students back to campus for the first time in about a year this week.

Despite a few bumps, district superintendent Gabriel Trujillo said that the transition has gone well.

“The first week of school has been tremendously smooth," Trujillo said. "We have had no complaints up in the superintendent's office. We've had nothing matriculating up to the district office.”

About 50% of TUSD students chose to remain in remote learning while 44% enrolled in in-person classes.

Learn more here.

Sonoran Official, 5 Others Traveling To Tucson Killed In Plane Crash

Fronteras Desk

A Sonoran government official was among six killed in a plane crash Saturday.

Leonardo Ciscomani was the state’s assistant secretary of economic development. In a post on social media, Sonoran Gov. Claudia Pavlovich praised him as an “exemplary” public official.

On Saturday, the twin-engine Cessna went down near Hermosillo after takeoff on its way to Tucson, according to state authorities. Federal authorities will be in charge of investigating the cause of the incident.

Four passengers were found dead at the scene, and two — including Ciscomani — received medical attention before passing away. The seventh passenger, Javier Laborín Azcárraga, was the sole survivor.

Learn more here.

Man Dies In Border Patrol Custody In Tucson

Fronteras Desk

A 29-year-old man from Guatemala died in custody Saturday after being apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in Casa Grande.

The man was apprehended on the evening of March 25 and started to show signs of distress the next morning at the Tucson Coordination Center.

Customs and Border Protection medical personnel attended to him immediately, but he went into cardiac arrest after emergency medical services arrived, according to a statement from the agency.

The CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility has initiated a review of the incident, and the man’s death will also be reviewed by the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Arizona reports 604 new COVID-19 cases but no new deaths


PHOENIX — Arizona health officials are reporting more than 600 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases but no new deaths. The Arizona Department of Health Services said Monday that it has tallied 604 new virus cases.

That brings the state’s pandemic total to 840,492 cases. The number of known COVID-19 related deaths remains 16,918.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested.

According to the state’s coronavirus dashboard, more than 3 million vaccine doses have been administered to Arizonans. More than 1 million residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation confirms 7 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths


WINDOW ROCK — The Navajo Nation is reporting seven new COVID-19 cases but no additional deaths.

Tribal health officials on Sunday said the latest figures bring the total number of cases since the pandemic started to 30,059. The number of deaths remains 1,246.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez says people cannot let pandemic fatigue undo the progress already made with vaccinations and mitigation measures. The Navajo Nation reservation covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation extends, loosens its health order on COVID-19


WINDOW ROCK — The Navajo Nation has extended and loosened a health order intended to help curb spread of the coronavirus.

Tribal officials said the daily curfew hours are 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. MDT while businesses can remain open until 9 p.m. MDT daily under the latest “safer at home" order issued Friday.

Officials said the order also includes provisions allowing outdoor “drive-in” gatherings in which people remain in their vehicles, park at at least six feet from other vehicles, and wear masks.

The tribe on Saturday reported 12 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and one more death, increasing its pandemic totals to 30,052 cases and 1,246 deaths.

Learn more here.

Arizona declares state holiday to honor Native code talkers


PHOENIX — An Arizona bill creates a new state holiday to honor Native Americans who used their language to transmit coded messages during World War II.

Aug. 14 is celebrated across the country and on the Navajo Nation as Navajo Code Talkers Day.

While hundreds of Navajos were recruited as code talkers, about a dozen Hopis and members of other tribes also covertly sent messages that helped the U.S. win the war.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill Monday that makes Aug. 14 a state holiday. It marks the day Japan announced it would surrender to the Allied forces. The holiday will be observed on a Sunday when state offices already are closed.

Learn more here.

Forest Service opens public comment for horse removal plan


PHOENIX — The U.S. Forest Service has entered its final stages of public comment in its plans to remove or sterilize more than 300 wild horses in eastern Arizona.

The Arizona Republic reported Saturday that the federal agency has given the community near Heber until late April to weigh in.

The Heber horse herd are the only horses in the state with their own dedicated territory, which was established in 1973.

The herd was placed under a federal court order of protection in 2005. But a plan from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests proposes reducing the herd’s size from about 420 horses to no more than 104.

Learn more here.

Phoenix-area rallies show solidarity for Asian community


PHOENIX — Hundreds of people took to the streets at two different rallies in the Phoenix area to protest violence against people of Asian descent and show solidarity with the Asian community.

The largest gathering was at the Asian District in Mesa. A protest march ended at AZ International Marketplace, where a vigil was held.

Earlier on Saturday, protesters came together at Wesley Bolin Memorial Park in downtown Phoenix to stand against hate crimes that target Asians.

Rally organizers say there have been 3,800 victims of violence against Asians during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic with 42 of the incidents occurring in Arizona. On March 16, spa shootings in Atlanta left eight people dead including six Asian Americans.

Learn more here.

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