/ Modified apr 7, 2021 3:58 p.m.

News roundup: UA lets go of Sean Miller, allows guests at graduation

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, April 7.

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 846,230 | deaths 17,023

On Wednesday, April 7, Arizona reported 750 new cases of COVID-19 and 27 additional deaths.

UA parts ways with men's basketball coach Sean Miller


The University of Arizona announced Wednesday morning, that Sean Miller is no longer the men’s head basketball coach.

“After taking the many factors involved into account, we simply believe that we need a fresh start, and now is the time,” said UA Athletic Director Dave Heeke in a statement released by the university.

In recent years the men’s basketball program has come under national scrutiny. In 2017, then assistant coach Emanual “Book” Richardson was arrested after a federal investigation. He was charged with taking bribes to pay student-athletes he wanted to recruit. He was one of 10 people arrested and served three months on those charges.

Learn more here.

Guests allowed at UA graduation


University of Arizona graduates in May can bring four family members with them to the ceremony.

The university plans to hold more than a dozen outside graduation ceremonies next month. Guests at those ceremonies will not be required to get a negative test for COVID-19 before watching the ceremony.

Graduation guests will be spaced across the stadiums where the outdoor ceremonies are held. Mask wearing will also be mandatory.

University of Arizona officials said if the COVID-19 numbers climb the ceremonies could be canceled.

Learn more here.

UA opening COVID-19 vaccines daily


The state COVID-19 vaccine pod at the University of Arizona will announce each day how many appointments it has open.

Last week, the university announced 1,500 open appointments on Friday afternoon and that is not a statistic the university wants to repeat.

“We don’t want to end the day with any vaccinations in the freezer and not being used,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, former U.S. Surgeon General who heads the UA COVID response.

The number of available appointments is based on a number of factors including vaccine availability and staffing.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation records case of California COVID-19 variant


The Navajo Nation announced Tuesday it recorded a case of the COVID-19 variant first identified in California — the B.1.429 variant.

COVID-19 cases are low compared to this winter which peaked at daily count in November of 401, but Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez is warning of a possible uptick in cases.

Nez said in a press release that the variant is highly infectious and has been identified in the states surrounding the tribal nation, but he said contact tracers in the Navajo Nation didn't find other cases of this variant.

The nation is currently under a stay-at-home order, but Nez emphasized businesses will still be open.

Learn more here.

Arizona AG says Pima County can enforce mask mandate


PHOENIX — A new opinion from Arizona's attorney general says Pima County can continue to enforce its face-mask mandates to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in spite of Republican Gov. Doug Ducey's order blocking those local rules.

Tuesday's opinion from Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office says the governor could order the state health department to issue rules barring local mandates. Or he could ignore the opinion and try to enforce his executive order on his own.

The developments came as Arizona’s daily rate of additional confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to creep upward while the daily rate of related deaths is down.

Learn more here.

Demand for vaccines slows as Arizona surpasses 17,000 deaths


PHOENIX — Arizona health officials say they are seeing demand for COVID-19 vaccinations slowing, particularly at large sites.

Vaccine appointments at state-run sites opened to anyone 16 and older on March 24, and KTAR reported that thousands of slots were available at sites in Tucson and Yuma as the week began.

The head of the state health department says it plans to release more public service announcements encouraging people to get vaccinated and hopes that’ll help address vaccine hesitancy.

The Daily Courier reported that a mass vaccination site in Prescott Valley was closing after Wednesday. It comes as Arizona reported 27 more COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, raising the state’s pandemic death toll above 17,000.

Kelly raises $4.4 million for Senate re-election bid


PHOENIX — Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly says he raised nearly $4.4 million for his re-election campaign during the first quarter of 2021.

The formidable haul announced Tuesday gives the Arizona senator a head start against Republicans looking to challenge him.

Kelly is one of the GOP’s top targets in its bid to retake the Senate majority.

Kelly was elected last year by 2.4 percentage points to finish the last two years of the late Republican Sen. John McCain’s final term. He’s now seeking a full six-year term.

Learn more here.

Arizona governor signs bill to preempt federal gun laws


PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation that aims to prohibit police and sheriffs from enforcing federal gun laws that violate the 2nd Amendment.

Backers say the bill signed Tuesday would ensure that the rights of gun owners are protected from what they say is the potential for overreach by President Joe Biden’s administration.

Critics say it will undermine the rule of law and discourage law enforcement officers from enforcing federal gun laws to protect the public. They also say it’s an unconstitutional measure that will cost taxpayers to defend in court.

Gun control advocates from Everytown for Gun Safety delivered petitions earlier Tuesday urging Ducey to reject the legislation.

Learn more here.

Long Lines And Relief As Older Hermosillenses Receive First Vaccine Doses

Fronteras Desk

Older residents of Hermosillo, the Sonoran capital, started receiving their first doses of coronavirus vaccine today.

At the University of Sonora, one of more than 30 sites in the city, hundreds of cars stretched roughly a mile.

Roughly 67,000 will be given to those 60 years of age and older in coming days, along with another 38,000 in two other large Sonoran cities, according to a state release.

By comparison, more than 500,000 doses have been administered in Pima County, which has a similar population to Hermosillo. There are roughly 104,000 Hermosillo residents eligible by age, according to recent census data.

Decision strikes key parts of Native American adoptions law


NEW ORLEANS — A divided federal appeals court has effectively struck down key parts of a law governing adoptions of Native American children.

Tuesday's ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court finding that the Indian Child Welfare Act's preferences for Native American families in adoption cases are unconstitutional. It also said some of the provisions of the law “unconstitutionally commandeer” state officials' duties in adoption matters.

The 1978 law has long been championed by Native American leaders as a means of preserving Native American families and culture.

Opponents of the law include non-Native families who have tried to adopt American Indian children in emotional legal cases.

Learn more here.

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