/ Modified apr 5, 2021 6:17 p.m.

News roundup: UA women’s basketball returns to Tucson, Dept of Interior announces new MMIW unit

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, April 5.

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 844,910 | Deaths 16,990

On Monday, April 5, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 608 new cases of COVID-19 but no additional deaths.

Fans welcome back UA women’s basketball after championship game


University of Arizona sports fans staged a welcome home party for the women's basketball team Monday at the UA football stadium.

The squad lost the national collegiate basketball championship to Stanford 54-53 in San Antonio Texas Sunday. Head coach Adia Barnes thanked her staff and players for a history-making season.

"It's just amazing all the stuff they have done and I wouldn't choose a different staff or a different team to go to war with anywhere, anytime, any day against anyone,” Barnes said.

The Wildcats finished their season with 21 wins and 6 losses while advancing to their first NCAA championship tournament final.

New missing and murdered unit for American Indians and Alaska Natives


The U.S. Interior Department announced last week it set up a new Missing and Murdered Unit for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Cases of missing or murdered Indigenous peoples can cover multiple jurisdictions — federal, state, tribal. It has become a longstanding hurdle for solving these crimes.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said these violent crimes are a crisis that has continued for decades.

The National Crime Information Center reports there are about 1,500 American Indian or Alaska Native missing people in the U.S., and another 2,700 murder or reckless homicide cases.

The Interior Department says many of these cases aren't solved because of a lack of resources needed to spot new information from witnesses or re-examine evidence.

One of the unit's offices is near Phoenix within the Gila River Tribal Police station.

Low saguaro reproduction numbers at national park in Tucson


It’s estimated that there are more than 2 million cactuses at Saguaro National Park within the 140-square-mile preserve bracketing Tucson.

The latest count last year represents a roughly 7% increase from the 2010 saguaro census. But experts are worried about the low number of young saguaros that are cropping up to replace their towering elders.

The region has had a drought cycle that dates to the mid-1990s and the long dry stretch appears to be impacting both reproduction and the survival rate for newly sprouted saguaros.

More study is needed to understand exactly what is happening. In a few parts of the park, no new saguaros have been spotted for the past 25 years. But in others, biologists have found more young saguaros than expected.

Learn more here.

Arizona finds 608 new virus cases but no deaths for 2nd day


PHOENIX — Health officials in Arizona have reported 608 more confirmed COVID-19 cases but no additional deaths for the second consecutive day.

The state release of new figures Monday bring its pandemic totals to 844,910 cases and 16,990 deaths.

The number of patients hospitalized for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases fell to 516 on Sunday — the lowest level since September. However, the number of ICU beds used by COVID-19 patients dipped to 148.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the state Department of Health Services, will mark the opening Monday morning of a site at a Dexcom regional distribution center in Mesa.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation confirms 7 new COVID-19 cases, 1 new death


WINDOW ROCK — The Navajo Nation has reported seven additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and one additional death.

The latest figures released Sunday bring the pandemic totals on the tribe’s reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, increased to 30,172 cases and 1,258 deaths.

Tribal President Jonathan Nez reminded people that one virus variant has been confirmed to be on the Navajo Nation. Nez says it’s crucial to keep sticking to mitigation measures including wearing masks, social distancing and constant handwashing. Tribal leaders plan to hold a virtual town hall Tuesday to give more updates.

In all, more than 16,000 people on the Navajo Nation have recovered from COVID-19.

Learn more here.

Agencies: Arizona farmers should expect less water in 2022


CASA GRANDE — State officials are putting farmers in south-central Arizona on notice that the continuing drought means a “substantial cut” in deliveries of Colorado River water is expected next year.

A joint statement issued Friday by the state Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Project said an expected shortage declaration would prompt reductions “falling largely to central Arizona agricultural users.”

The Central Arizona Project is an aqueduct system that delivers river water to users, including farmers, cities and tribes.

The agencies' statement said Arizona is expected to reduce its use of river water by a total of 512,000 acre-feet in 2022, up from 192,000 acre-feet currently.

Learn more here.

How Arizona's Havasupai Tribe Has Kept COVID-19 Out Of Their Community

Fronteras Desk

They call themselves the People of the Blue-Green Water.

They’re the Havasupai, and they live at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, by a creek known for its swimming holes and waterfalls.

Permits to see the canyon and its iconic waterfalls sell out quickly. That’s good for the tribe, because tourism is its primary source of income. Then COVID-19 struck. Tourism shut down. Traffic in and out has been monitored closely.

Ordinarily, people could come and go from the canyon as they pleased. But COVID changed that. The tribe hired a security company to keep people from entering the canyon.

Learn more here.

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