/ Modified apr 6, 2021 10:41 p.m.

News roundup: Pima County Supervisors vote against water rate hike, AZ pushes back tax deadline

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, April 6.

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 845,480 | Deaths 16,996

On Tuesday, April 6, Arizona reported 570 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths.

Supervisors vote against increase in water rate for rural customers


Pima County Supervisors displayed rare bipartisan agreement Tuesday morning when they narrowly voted to oppose a new rate plan for Tucson Water customers.

The proposal, for a 'differential rate' system, would force water customers outside city limits to pay up to 30% more for their water, compared to users inside the city.

A city memo acknowledges that Tucson loses $40 to $50 million a year in state revenue because of the large number of people living outside city limits. Expanding city boundaries would also increase its tax base.

Republican Steve Christy joined Democrats Sharon Bronson and Rex Scott in voting to oppose the city plan, which is up for city council discussion this evening. Democrats Adelita Grijalva and Matt Heinz voted against the resolution, which passed 3-2.

Arizona delays tax day to May 17, matching federal change


PHOENIX — Arizona is delaying its tax-filing deadline until May 17 to match a delay for federal tax returns.

Gov. Doug Ducey approved the change in legislation he signed on Monday, 10 days before the traditional April 15 deadline. The extension is automatic for both state and federal returns.

The IRS announced last month that it would extend the tax season by one month as the agency worked to issue guidance for tax law changes as part of the latest coronavirus relief legislation.

The state and federal tax deadlines were also released last year when the pandemic first upended the economy.

Learn more here.

Arizona's daily rate of COVID cases rising while deaths slow


PHOENIX — Arizona’s daily rate of additional confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to creep upward while the daily rate of related deaths is down.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases increased over the past two weeks, rising from 479.4 on March 21 to 631.1 on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the rolling average of daily deaths dropped from 27.4 to 12.2 during the same period.

The state on Tuesday reported 570 additional confirmed cases and six deaths, increasing the pandemic totals to 845,480 cases and 16,996 deaths. That's according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation confirms 6 new COVID-19 cases, but no deaths


WINDOW ROCK — The Navajo Nation on Monday reported six new confirmed COVID-19 cases, but no deaths.

The latest figures bring the pandemic totals on the tribe’s reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, increased to 30,178 cases and 1,258 known deaths.

Tribal President Jonathan Nez has reminded people that one virus variant has been confirmed to be on the Navajo Nation. In a statement, 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.

Learn more here.

Arizona governor signs COVID-19 liability shield


PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation giving businesses, nursing homes and others a broad shield from lawsuits related to COVID-19.

Backers say businesses struggled during the pandemic and shouldn’t have to worry about the potential for frivolous lawsuits. Democrats say the measure would reward bad actors who flouted health guidance and endangered their workers or the public.

Ducey called for the measure in his state-of-the-state address in January. He signed it Monday without comment.

Similar legislation has been introduced across the country and in Congress.

Learn more here.

US Interior secretary highlights COVID-19 aid for tribes


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has made her first official trip to her home state of New Mexico to meet with Indigenous leaders.

Dozens of tribal leaders gathered Tuesday in Albuquerque for a roundtable discussion with Haaland, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the state’s two U.S. senators.

The agenda included the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating effects on tribal nations. Haaland highlighted the federal government's latest COVID-19 relief package.

About $20 billion will go to tribal governments to help them keep combating the virus and to stabilize tribal safety-net programs.

Learn more here.

Study: Drought-breaking rains more rare, erratic in US West


BILLINGS, Mont. — Rainstorms grew more erratic and droughts much longer across most of the U.S. West over the past half-century as climate change warmed the planet. That's the conclusion of a sweeping government study released Tuesday that finds the situation for the region is worsening.

The most dramatic changes have been seen in the desert Southwest, where the average dry period between storms increased from 30 days to 45 days since the 1970s.

The consequences of intense dry periods pummeling areas of the West in recent years have been severe: more intense and dangerous wildfires, parched croplands and not enough vegetation on the landscape to support livestock and wildlife.

Learn more here.

Report: More Migrants Are Crossing The Border And 4 Out Of 10 Of Them Are Mexican

Fronteras Desk

MEXICO CITY — A recent report from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center using data from the U.S. Border and Customs Protection says migrant apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border are surging again. And Mexican nationals are accounting for a greater share of those detentions.

The report says nearly 100,000 migrants were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in February.

That marks the tenth month in a row of increased apprehensions and a return to levels in mid-2019, when detentions fell as a result of the pandemic.

The document says the number of Mexican migrants has also increased noticeably: around four in 10 of those apprehended at the southwestern border.

Learn more here.

Mexico And The U.S. Face Vaccination Disparity

Fronteras Desk

MEXICO CITY — About 168 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered in the U.S., while in Mexico only about 9 million. That’s almost half of the U.S. population vaccinated with at least one dose, compared to only 7% of Mexico’s population. And there are reasons and implications of the disparity.

The U.S. is among the nations with more vaccines and with a fast vaccination pace.

In Mexico, supplies arrive in small batches, and many analysts consider the government’s strategy slow. The vaccine is currently administered to the elderly, and many doctors still wait to get it.

Dr. Arturo Mendoza is an internationally prominent Mexican doctor. He said the vaccination gap between both neighboring nations could eventually affect bilateral relations at all levels.

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