/ Modified jul 9, 2020 9:06 a.m.

Daily news roundup: Arizona COVID-19 cases, educators on reopening calls

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, July 8.

Arizona COVID-19 one-week snapshot, Aug. 10

This map tracks changes in reported COVID-19 numbers over a one-week period. Since last week, Arizona reported 9,056 new cases (5% increase), 389 more deaths (10% increase), 7,906 additional hospitalizations and a statewide positive diagnostic test rate of 12.9%. The state reported a daily average of 1,293.71 cases and 55.57 deaths. Choose a Layerlayer and click on a county to learn more.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: ADHS, county health departments, Census 2018 Quick Facts. *Test numbers are for reported diagnostic (PCR) tests and do not include antibody (serology) tests, unlike previous versions of this map. Positive test rate is calculated using reported case and test totals. Daily reports may not reflect recent data, the state says.

COVID-19, July 8 — Cases: 108,614 | Deaths: 1,963 | PCR tests: 640,487.

The state reported 3,520 more cases and 36 deaths on this day. Yesterday headlines announced that Arizona had the highest rate of percent positive cases in the country, suggesting that the spread of the virus had dramatically outstripped the state's testing capacity. Hospitalizations continued their steady rise, with a record 3,421 for the day before.

White House expert, researcher see Arizona cases leveling


GLENDALE — One of the nation’s coronavirus hot spots got a sliver a good news Wednesday. An Arizona State University researcher and the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator both say an exponential rise in the percentage of people testing positive for the virus appears to have leveled off.

But that news was tempered by reports that hospitals are nearly full, and the state is reporting 3,500 additional cases a day. Figures released by the Arizona Department of Health Services show a record 3,421 people being treated at hospitals. The confirmed case count is now over 108,000, and the number of deaths attributed to the virus is 1,963.

Learn more here.

UA Professor: AZ mask rules could be slowing rate of coronavirus infection

Arizona Daily Star

While the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Arizona, the crisis will also worsen, but not as quickly as it has been, a University of Arizona professor said.

UA associate professor Joe Gerald says a slowing rate of increase in case numbers in the state is evidence that ordinances requiring masks in public — limited in Arizona to local mandates — are effective, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

There are lags in between the event and the reports for cases, testing and especially deaths, and Gerald says the state can expect a large number of deaths in the coming days.

Learn more at Tucson.com

Trump to US schools: Reopen or you may lose federal funds


President Donald Trump is threatening to withhold federal money if schools don’t reopen in the fall. And he says the guidelines his own federal health officials have created for schools to reopen are too impractical and expensive.

Shortly after Trump tweeted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines were “very tough & expensive,” Vice President Mike Pence announced that the agency plans to release additional school guidance next week. Even as Trump continued to pressure state and local officials to fully reopen, New York City officials announced that most of their students would only attend in-person classes two or three days in the fall.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says bringing back students for only a few days a week fails them.

Learn more here.

Arizona parents, educators balk at White House reopening call

Cronkite News

PHOENIX – A White House panel of parents, teachers and school administrators said Tuesday that reopening schools this fall should be the nation’s top priority, for the well-being of students and parents and as a move to “stabilize our society.”

But while the panel pushed for schools reopening “quickly and beautifully in the fall,” as President Donald Trump put it, some teachers and parents in Arizona said they worry that schools here will not be able to find safe ways to do it.

“As a mom and as a teacher, I want my kids to be with their friends. I know that in-person is better for them,” said Dawn Penich-Thacker, communications director for Save Our Schools Arizona.

“But they (Arizona schools) can’t afford to keep my kids safe,” said Penich-Thacker, who worries that Arizona schools do not have the tools to make a safe return. “I see it from the inside that there are not enough resources.”

Learn more here.

Tucson repeals controversial ordinance on police crime scenes


The Tucson City Council voted Tuesday night to repeal a controversial ordinance that drew national attention. Ordinance 11746 was intended to stop people from interfering with police investigations at crime scenes, but it was widely criticized as an attempt to prevent people from recording police activity.

The ordinance faced opposition from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which said it led to "misinformation and misunderstanding about the right to record the police." Council member Paul Cunningham said the community needs a broader conversation about law enforcement.

Arizona weekly unemployment claims close to a record


Last week, 213,199 people filed first-time unemployment claims in Arizona. That number is just 1,611 shy of the record number of weekly claims since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The number of first-time claims had dropped the week before. Gov. Doug Ducey’s order reclosing bars, movie theaters, and gyms may have contributed to the spike in claims.

To see the numbers and learn more, click here.

US rule targets disease-stricken countries to deny asylum


SAN DIEGO — The Trump administration has proposed empowering border authorities to deny asylum to people from countries with widespread communicable disease.

Wednesday's announcement is the latest in a string of regulations before the November elections to dramatically raise the bar on who qualifies for humanitarian protections. The Homeland Security and Justice departments say denying asylum to people from high-risk countries would combat disease in the United States, in some cases stopping it before it reaches American soil.

The rule would take effect sometime after a 30-day period for public comments.

Learn more here.

Harvard, MIT sue to block ICE rule on international students


BOSTON — Colleges and universities are pushing back against the Trump administration’s decision to make international students leave the country if they plan on taking classes entirely online this fall.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed a lawsuit seeking to block the rule Wednesday, and other universities are promising to work with students to keep them in the country. The Trump administration says the directive will allow for proper social distancing on campuses.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement notified colleges Monday that international students will be forced to leave the U.S. or transfer if their schools operate entirely online.

Learn more here.

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