/ Modified sep 30, 2020 5:46 p.m.

News roundup: Quitobaquito road access closed, Pima County breaks early ballot record

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Sept. 30.

COVID 19 cases: 218,507 | Deaths: 5,650

As of Sept. 30


NPS closes route to Quitobaquito Springs

AZPM

National Park Service officials at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument announced a road closure that will block access to Quitobaquito Springs.

The closure comes a day after about 30 people from almost a dozen tribes across the West gathered at the ancient water source for a cross-border ceremony held by O'odham leaders.

Before being purchased by the park service in the 1950s, Quitobaquito and the man-made pond it drains into was was home to Eleanor Ortega's relatives and other Hia-Ced O'odham families — a tribe not federally recognized.

"It really breaks my heart when I come over here," Ortega said as she waited for the ceremony to start. "And I feel like my great great grandfather’s probably saying, 'how did you guys allow this to happen? This is your home.'"

Learn more here.


Tucson breaks more heat records

Arizona Daily Star

Tucson had already seen its hottest summer on record, but brutal summer weather didn't let up by the end of September as the city saw more record-breaking heat and drought.

It was the hottest September on record, and a record-tying month of zero rainfall at the National Weather Service's station at the Tucson International Airport.

Tucson also broke the record on Tuesday for the most days over 100 degrees in a single year.

Learn more at Tucson.com


FBI working with local officials to protect Arizona elections

AZPM

The FBI office in Phoenix has an officer specially trained to work with state and local election officials to investigate and stop election fraud.

Accusations of election fraud including van loads of illegal voters and tampering with the mail are becoming more common in Arizona and across the country.

FBI officials want Arizona voters to know that they are ready to investigate every fraud accusation.

“We work with the postal inspector’s office. That’s part of our partnership, and we’re working with the state and the county as well,” said Steven Patterson, FBI assistant agent in charge of the Tucson office.


Pima County breaks record for early ballot requests

AZPM Voter registration rolls don’t close until Monday, Oct. 5, but a record number of Pima County residents have already registered and asked for early ballots.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 447,774 Pima County voters had requested an early ballot — 77% of registered voters — and the number is still climbing, according to Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez.

The county also sent out 3,666 overseas ballots and so far has had 1,019 sent back for counting. Most overseas ballots go to members of the military.

The number of registered voters in the county has increased by 12,000 in the last two weeks, bringing registration to 614,473, which is also a record. Rodriguez said many people register through ServiceArizona.com, but plenty of people still come to her office to fill out the voter registration form.

Learn more here.


School, hospital officials urge continued mask mandates

AP

LAKE HAVASU CITY — Hospital officials and Arizona’s schools chief are urging local governments not to lift their mask mandates.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said Wednesday that schools are depending on continued efforts to control the coronavirus outbreak. An association representing large hospital chains said lifting mask mandates risks burdening the health care system.

The mayor of a western Arizona tourist destination on Monday lifted a citywide mask mandate originally ordered in July requiring facial coverings indoors when social distancing was not possible. Today’s News-Herald reported that Lake Havasu City Mayor Cal Sheehy suspended the mandate on Monday after it was extended twice, most recently on Aug. 28.

Read the full article here.


Arizona state police gets body cameras for 12% of force

AP

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey says someone is donating 150 body-worn cameras for state police officers. That's enough to equip about 12% of the force in the coming months.

Ducey's administration released few details about the cameras Wednesday, including which officers will get them and what company is supplying them. Ducey last year requested $5 million to buy nearly 1,300 cameras to equip every Department of Public Safety officer, along with related storage equipment and staff.

The request stalled because of the coronavirus outbreak but Ducey says he'll renew it next year. He says the body cameras increase public trust and keep officers safe.

Read the full article here.


University of Arizona stay-at-home request set to expire

AP

The University of Arizona says a two-week shelter-in-place recommendation intended to limit the spread of COVID-19 is set to expire Tuesday. University officials on Monday cited recent COVID-19 testing data that has shown numbers that are headed in the right direction.

Officials say the university’s daily positivity rate which measures community spread fell to 3.4% on Friday, below the targeted 5%. President Robert Robbins is positive about the university's direction but has raised concerns that students are not following the necessary steps. He warned that the recommendation could be reinstated.

More here.


Mexican President Apologizes For 'State Crime Against Missing Students

Fronteras Desk

MEXICO CITY — The disappearance of 43 students in Mexico six years ago is still unclear, yet it has become a symbol in the fight for justice, as some theories say the government is behind it. Now, the Mexican president blames his predecessor and promises new arrests.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said his government would bring to justice those responsible for the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College.

The president apologized on behalf of the state for what he considers a crime that was protected by his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto.

The 43 students disappeared after hijacking buses to attend a protest in Mexico City. Back then, the official version blamed the local police and organized crime for their murder and abduction. But many, including the president, suspect that the military was behind.

López Obrador says there are new orders of arrest against some people in the army, as the investigation continues.

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