Arizona COVID-19 one-week snapshot, Aug. 10
Cases: 116,892 | Deaths: 2,082 | Diagnostic tests: 668,528.
On July 10, the state reported 4,221 more cases and 44 deaths. Hospitalizations hovered for the last three days near 3,500. On Thursday, Gov. Doug Ducey said restaurants could not exceed 50% capacity for dine-in services, adding to restrictions that already required distancing measures, but stopping short of issuing a statewide mask rule or stay-home order.
Arizona reports more than 4,000 new confirmed virus cases
PHOENIX — With more than 4,000 newly confirmed coronavirus cases Friday, Arizona continues to have the highest rate of infection per capita in the nation.
The state Health Services Department said Friday that the new cases put Arizona’s total count at nearly 117,000. Only six other states have more cases and those all have much larger populations. Arizona also reported 44 additional deaths.
Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ says the state is taking a number of steps to free up hospital space for new COVID 19 patients, including preparing to shuttle some recovering patients to nursing homes.
Calls for police accountability continue as details of past cases emerge
In recent weeks the nation's attention has focused on police officers who disobey protocol or commit racially based violence. Many are asking, "Who is policing the police?" This week, The Buzz explores that question and talks with Tucson Police Department Chief Chris Magnus about what his department is doing to respond. The Buzz also spoke with Vanessa Gallego, an organizer with Families United Gaining Mobility, and Matt Giordano, executive director of AZPOST.
To hear this week's episode of The Buzz, click here
Pandemic hits small town, elections ramp up, USMCA enacted
This week on Arizona 360
With Arizona’s COVID-19 caseload now beyond 100,000, Tony Paniagua reports on how the pandemic has impacted the town of Guadalupe in Maricopa County.
Lorraine Rivera discusses how the county is adapting its response to the pandemic with Dr. Theresa Cullen, who heads the Pima County Health Department.
The Tucson Sentinel’s Dylan Smith and the Green Valley News/Sahuarita Sun’s Dan Shearer discuss current headlines and how issues related to the coronavirus crisis and police reform could influence voters as the year’s election season ramps up.
After years of negotiation, the deal to replace NAFTA took effect this month. Lorraine Rivera hears from Canada’s Consul General Zaib Shaikh about how the USMCA will impact trade relations between Arizona and Canada. Rivera also hears from trade adviser Luis Ramirez about what the new pact means for the state’s largest importer, Mexico.
For more and to see this week's episode, click here
Slots for free Pima County COVID-19 testing rapidly filling up
If you want one of the free COVID-19 tests Pima County is giving, it's best to sign up early and be prepared to wait to be tested.
The county set up a web page to take reservations for the testing, which starts Monday. By midday Friday, all the Monday through Thursday slots were taken. While someone wishing to be tested doesn't need a referral from a doctor, they do need to make a reservation. No walk-ins will be accepted.
The county will use the gymnasium at Kino Events Center for the tests, so there is plenty of room for social distancing. Paradigm Labs, which is doing the tests, aims to do up to 1,000 each day.
The county says it will keep the test center open as long as it is needed to control the coronavirus pandemic.
Medical examiner assisting funeral homes running low on space
The Pima County Medical Examiner's Office has acknowledged reports that it's providing storage space to funeral homes that are running low on space for bodies. But the office says the backup is not due to deaths from COVID-19. In fact the county reported no COVID-19 related deaths yesterday.
Instead a news release attributes "a slowdown in the funerary process amid the COVID-19 pandemic."
The medical examiner has room for 150 sets of remains, normally used to identify and return bodies of migrants who die on their way to the U.S. Some of that space will be used to store bodies during the funeral-home backlog.
Checkpoints, protests restricting nonessential travel into Sonora on hold for now
Travelers without an essential reason to visit neighboring Sonora, Mexico, were turned away by officials and protesters over the Fourth of July holiday. But southbound travelers won’t be impeded at Sonoran ports of entry this weekend after both protesters and officials said restrictions had been lifted for the time being.
Ernesto Munro, mayor of the popular beach town Puerto Peñasco, or Rocky Point, said after would-be visitors were turned away by protesters in the border town of Sonoyta for several days last week, his government reached an agreement with protesters to remove blockades.
As part of the agreement, Rocky Point agreed to provide Sonoyta with face masks, oxygen tanks, a sanitation tunnel and other medical supplies, among other measures. Sonoyta residents will also be allowed into Rocky Point for essential reasons, like visiting banks and stores. And tourists are being directed to pass through Sonoyta without stopping.
But protester Carlos Jacquez said while the blockades will be removed for now, they could be back.
Bars challenge Ducey's shutdown order
Arizona Daily Star
Some bars in Arizona are challenging Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's June 29 order to shut down, saying the move was unconstitutional.
A lawyer representing the bars says the law the governor used to issue the order “unconstitutionally delegates the legislative power of this state to the governor,” and is asking the Arizona Supreme Court to void the law and make illegal and unenforceable any other orders the governor has made using it.
The ruling could affect the governor's ability to issue a new stay-at-home order.
Read more at Tucson.com.
Foreign students weigh studying in person vs. losing visas
PHOENIX — International students worried about a new immigration policy that could potentially cost them their visas say they feel stuck between being unnecessarily exposed during the coronavirus pandemic and being able to finish their studies in America.
The state of California is now suing to block the visa policy. Meanwhile students are scrambling to devise plans after federal immigration authorities notified colleges this week that international students must leave the U.S. or transfer to another college if their schools operate entirely online this fall. Some say they are considering the possibility of returning home or moving to nearby Canada.
Border authorities use pandemic powers to expel immigrants
SAN DIEGO — A Honduran family's quest for asylum in United States shows how difficult it has become to seek asylum during the coronavirus pandemic.
Because of the coronavirus, U.S. authorities wield extraordinary power to immediately expel Mexicans and Central Americans to Mexico, waiving laws that include rights to seek asylum. The father and 9-year-old son were whisked back to Mexico when encountered in San Diego. They were separated from the mother as she began going into labor. Two days later, she was also back in Tijuana — with her newborn son, a U.S. citizen.
Yuma man jailed for showing gun over yogurt shop's mask rule
YUMA — A Yuma man who was ejected from a frozen yogurt shop for not wearing a mask is facing charges for pulling out a gun in response.
Yuma County Sheriff’s officials say the incident happened around 6:15 p.m. Thursday when 64-year-old Steven Covington entered Tiki Hut Frozen Yogurt. According to the staff, Covington was agitated when told to wear a face covering and gloves provided by the store. Covington then started dispensing frozen yogurt into his bare hands. He was escorted out but returned with a handgun. He fled but was located later by deputies.