/ Modified jul 9, 2020 7:04 p.m.

Daily news roundup: AZ COVID-19 death toll tops 2,000, Ducey caps restaurant capacity

Recent coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and more, July 9.

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 9 — Cases: 112,671 | Deaths: 2,038 | Diagnostic tests: 652,418

On Thursday, July 9, Arizona reported 4,057 more cases and 75 deaths due to COVID-19, breaking the 2,000 mark for the cumulative death toll. Hospitalizations continued their steady rise. While there were some indications that the rate of acceleration of the crisis was slowing — suggested to be linked to local mask ordinances — health experts and others warned that the crisis is nowhere near under control, with roughly a quarter of tests coming back positive in recent days. Learn more in our feature interview.

Ducey allows restaurants to stay open at reduced capacity amid calls for stricter measures


Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday allowed restaurant dine-in services to continue in the state as long as they operate at less than 50% of capacity to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, in a new executive order.

The governor also issued an IOU for stronger guidance for businesses as the state grapples with COVID-19, a week in which it recorded some the worst COVID-19 numbers in the country.

In the press briefing, Ducey intensified his ongoing appeal to Arizonans to do their part to reduce the spread by wearing a mask, washing hands, and not going out, but did not issue any requirements to that effect. "This idea of sacrificing is really a mindset," Ducey said.

In recent days, Arizona has recorded the highest rate of percent positive tests in the country, with around one-in-four tests coming back positive, eclipsing the recommended high-mark indicator of 5%. It also reportedly led the country in the rate of hospitalizations via inpatient hospital bed use.

Learn more here.

TPD releases in-custody death reports


The more than 1,000 pages of documents and videos cover four in-custody deaths for the Tucson Police Department. One death took place in March of this year, the others occurred in 2012 and 2010.

The Tucson police department came under scrutiny recently when it was revealed Carlos Ingram Lopez died in their custody in April. Part of the public scrutiny about the case was the fact that the incident was kept quiet for two months. The in-custody death of Ingram Lopez was the second of the year for the Tucson police department, in March another man died in police custody.

On Wednesday night, TPD released the records tied to in-custody deaths for the last ten years requested by AZPM and other news organizations

All four cases involved a male in TPD custody being handcuffed. Most also involved drug use.

Learn more here.

'We are nowhere near having this under control'

AZPM Feature

Arizona has become a leading hot spot for COVID-19 cases. Health professionals, elected officials and the public are carefully watching various metrics to track the spread of the disease. In the last few weeks, Arizona's rate of percent positivity has been rapidly increasing. It's currently around 25%, meaning about one out of four people tested has the disease.

Ariana Brocious talked with UA infectious disease epidemiologist Kate Ellingson about what that rate means for controlling the spread of COVID-19.

"Despite inadequate testing — as evidenced by the high percent positive and the excessive delays in returning results — this state still has one highest rates of cases per 100,000 population in the world. This is highly concerning and indicates that we are nowhere near having this under control," Ellingson said.

Find audio and a transcript of the interview here.

Arizona virus death toll tops 2,000 as hospitals see surge

PHOENIX — Arizona’s reported death toll from the coronavirus outbreak topped 2,000 on Thursday as state health officials reported new high marks for COVID-19 hospitalizations and use of ventilators.

The Department of Health Services reported 75 additional deaths, bringing the state’s total to 2,038. The additional 4,057 confirmed cases reported Thursday brought the total to 112,671. Arizona has emerged as a national hot spot since Gov. Doug Ducey loosened stay-home restrictions in mid-May, sending a flood of COVID-19 patients to hospitals across the state. In another development, the department has waived more than a dozen hospital regulations.

Navajo Nation president vetoes items from federal virus aid


GALLUP, N.M. — The president of the Navajo Nation has used line-item vetoes on two bills distributing funds from a federal coronavirus relief package.

The Navajo Nation Council passed two bills calling for the use of $93.1 million and $42 million from the $600 million the tribe received from the federal government. President Jonathan Nez says he vetoed $73 million in expenditures because council members attempted to include what he called pet projects and frivolous spending.

Council Speaker Seth Damon defended the council’s intention to push legislation benefiting the nation's citizens.

Navajo Nation reports 40 more COVID-19 cases, 3 more deaths


WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials have reported 40 more coronavirus cases and three additional known deaths.

Tribal Department of Health officials say 7,981 people on the vast reservation that spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have tested positive for COVID-19 with 382 known deaths as of Wednesday night. Health officials also say reports from all 12 health care facilities on and near the Navajo Nation indicate 61,371 people have been tested and 5,693 have recovered from COVID-19.

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

Latino group launches $10M campaign to boost voter turnout


PHOENIX — A national organization that aims to boost Latino voter turnout is launching a $10 million campaign in several 2020 battleground states.

The campaign by Mi Familia Vota is starting in Arizona and Florida, where Democrats hope to swing votes toward their presumptive presidential nominee, Joe Biden. Both major political parties are courting Latino voters this year.

The advertising campaign announced Thursday comes amid growing concerns about Latino turnout in a year when that community has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus.

Learn more here.

Trump signs executive order as he courts Hispanic voters


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that creates a new advisory commission tasked with improving Hispanic Americans’ access to economic and educational opportunities.

The effort comes as the president hopes to win a bigger share of the Latino vote than he did four years ago. Trump used the event to highlight how his administration had boosted employment among Hispanics prior to the coronavirus pandemic. But his attempt to court Latino voters ahead of the November election is complicated by his efforts to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and his work to end legal protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States as children.

Learn more here.

Couple accused of coughing on Yuma store workers on purpose


YUMA — Police in Yuma have arrested a couple accused of intentionally coughing on employees at a Walmart store and then trying to flee.

Employees told police 38-year-old Frank Montoya and 23-year-old Victoria Parra Carranza refused to wear masks in the store when asked Wednesday and then deliberately coughed on them. Store officials called police in light of the coronavirus pandemic that has made Arizona a national hot spot for cases. It was unclear if either Montoya or Parra Carranza have been tested for COVID-19.

Police arrived and say the couple became confrontational. Montoya and Parra Carranza have been booked into the Yuma County jail on suspicion of aggravated assault, disorderly conduct and other charges.

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