Cases 196,280 | Deaths 4,684 | Diagnostic tests 1,116,897
On Thursday, Aug. 20, the state reported 723 new cases of COVID-19 and 50 additional deaths. State officials say Arizona’s steadily decreasing rolling case numbers allow for some school districts to reopen for in-person learning, the Associated Press reported.
Gov. Ducey offers grants to bars, gyms forced to close
Gov. Doug Ducey announced Thursday that gyms, bars, water parks and theaters can apply for a state grant to cover up to two months' rent or mortgage payments.
"We know it's been incredibly difficult for so many in our state, and we want you to know that we're listening and we're continuing to do everything that we can to help," Ducey said in a news conference Thursday.
The state is providing $10 million in grants to small businesses forced to close in March to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Arizona clears 2 counties to partially reopen schools
PHOENIX (AP) — State health officials say COVID-19 conditions in Arizona have improved to the point where it is safe for two rural counties to reopen schools for partial in-person learning. The counties given the green light are Apache and Yavapai.
The state health department says its earlier statement that Cochise and Coconino counties were OK to open was incorrect. Prescott in Yavapai County and St. Johns in Apache County are among the large communities affected along with many smaller communities.
The state’s other 13 counties, including Maricopa, which includes Phoenix, and Pima, where Tucson is located, still haven't cleared benchmarks based on case numbers, testing positivity and hospital visits.
The virus outbreak has eased after Arizona became a national hot spot in June and July.
Ex-Trump aide Bannon pleads not guilty in border wall scheme
NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he ripped off donors trying to fund a southern border wall.
The plea happened Thursday, hours after Bannon was pulled from a yacht off the coast of Connecticut and arrested. He becomes the latest in a long list of Trump allies to be charged with a crime. The charges were contained in an indictment in Manhattan federal court.
Prosecutors say the organizers of the “We Build The Wall” group raised more than $25 million from thousands of donors and pledged that 100% of the money would be used for the project.
UA: At least nine students test positive for COVID-19 on return to campus
University of Arizona officials confirmed Wednesday afternoon that nine students had tested positive for the novel coronavirus when they arrived on campus to move into their assigned dorm.
University officials said three more students had positive results, but the university is waiting for confirmation of those tests.
All students must first complete a COVID-19 test before being allowed in the dorms. Those who test positive are isolated. More than 4,000 students have been tested since move-in began earlier this week.
Pascua Yaqui Tribe continues effort to restore former early voting site
During the pandemic, officials and voting rights advocates across the country have pushed early in-person voting, drop-off boxes for ballots and mail-in voting, but not all voters have equal access to these socially distanced early voting options. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe has been fighting for two years to restore an early voting site at the tribal government's radio station that's housed on its reservation along the southwest edge of Tucson.
Tribal Council member Herminia Frias questions what kind of precedent moving an early voting location away from this Indigenous community sets.
"What is the message that that sends to us? Doesn't our vote matter? We're a sovereign nation," Frias said.
AG: drug supplier found so Arizona could resume executions
PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has notified Gov. Doug Ducey that a drug supplier has been found so the state could resume executions.
Arizona’s last execution was Joseph R. Wood in 2014 and Brnovich said of the more than 100 death row inmates in the state, 20 have exhausted their appeals. In a letter Thursday to Ducey, Brnovich says his office has found a lawful supplier of pentobarbital that can make the drug available to Arizona. He is urging Ducey to act without delay so Arizona may begin the process of securing the required pentobarbital.
Ducey says he has received Brnovich’s letter and will respond once he gets more information.
Pandemic hits Latino communities overly hard, report finds
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute says the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately killing Latinos.
Valerie Wilson is the director of the institute's Program on Race, Inequality and the Economy.
“In particular, among those between the ages of 35 and 44,” Wilson said. “I believe that the Latinx death rate was as much as almost nine times higher than it was for white Americans in that same age category.”
The findings hold true across all age groups. Wilson says the disparity is likely linked to Latinos being more likely to work in front-line industries and more likely to have a complicating health conditions like diabetes or obesity.
Wilson says the findings show that an equitable policy response needs to account for these disparities.
Tucson nonprofit gets $1M donation to help families during pandemic
Two donors, the Open Society Foundations and an anonymous giver, donated $1.25 million to the Sunnyside Foundation to help immigrant families affected by the pandemic.
The foundation has said the money will go toward helping families who otherwise were denied federal aid.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero noted that some of those denied federal aid are otherwise regarded as essential workers.
The funds will be used to provide those families assistance with meals, utilities and rent.
Navajo Nation reports 14 new coronavirus cases and no deaths
WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials have reported 14 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 but no additional deaths. That brings the total number of people infected to 9,500 with the known death toll still at 484 as of Wednesday.
Navajo Department of Health officials say 90,064 people have been tested for the coronavirus and 6,989 have recovered.
The Navajo Nation lifted its stay-at-home order last Sunday, but is encouraging residents to leave their homes only for emergencies or essential activities. Much of the Navajo Nation has been closed since March as the coronavirus swept through the reservation that extends into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.
Arizona utilities ask customers to reduce electricity use
PHOENIX — Arizona’s three largest electric utilities are asking customers to reduce power use as a heat wave cooking the West sends demand soaring. Arizona Public Service Co, Tucson Electric Power and the Salt River Project urged customers to avoid using major appliances from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, raise their home thermostats to limit use and turn off unnecessary power. SRP says a major power line was put out of commission by a wildfire.
All three electricity providers said they have enough power now but urged conservation. Utilities in Nevada and California are also seeing heavy demand and urging people to cut power use.
Border Patrol arrests US citizen, 10 immigrants in Yuma
YUMA — Border Patrol agents in southern Arizona have arrested a U.S. citizen after allegedly attempting to smuggle 10 Mexican immigrants.
The Yuma Sun reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities conducted immigration checks on a group of people waiting for an Amtrak train in downtown Yuma on Wednesday around 2 a.m. Agents apprehended eight Mexican citizens who were illegally present in the country and a 19-year-old U.S. citizen who drove the group to the station. Two more Mexican citizens who were found hiding in the woman’s truck.
The vehicle was seized and all 10 immigrants were removed from the country for immigration violations.
Video shows Muslim man's faith mocked during fatal arrest
PHOENIX — An advocacy group has released what they say is previously unseen body camera footage showing Phoenix police mocking the religion of a Black Muslim man who later died in their custody.
Muslim Advocates, a national civil rights organization, released video Thursday from the 2017 death of Muhammad Abdul Muhaymin Jr. Muhaymin can be heard crying out in pain and calling for Allah. An officer is then heard saying “Allah? He's not going to help you right now.”
The 43-year-old was arrested in January 2017 after a dispute over whether he could bring his service dog into a community center bathroom. His family is suing the city.