/ Modified nov 10, 2020 4:07 p.m.

News roundup: COVID-19 cases surging, Biden win a relief to some 'Dreamers'

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Nov. 10.

Cases 263,133 | Deaths 6,192

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, Arizona reported 3,434 new cases of COVID-19 and 28 additional deaths. Tuesday’s case count is the highest the state has seen since mid-July.

Arizona COVID-19 case counts reaching summer levels


Arizona’s daily COVID-19 case count rose to 3,434 on Tuesday, on par with the rapid increase the state saw in June and the highest it has been since mid-July. Three out of five days last week, case counts were more than 2,000 a day. When case counts were last at this level, Arizona was in the midst of the worst outbreak in the nation.

At that time, Gov. Doug Ducey ordered gyms, bars and theaters closed for a month in order to drive the numbers down. Cases have risen about 70% from the average two weeks ago and, despite warnings from epidemiologists, the governor has yet to issue any new restrictions.

"We continue to monitor the data on a daily basis. There have been things that have been implemented as we've moved into moderate,” state health director Dr. Cara Christ said in a Monday press briefing. “Most of the state currently is in a moderate benchmark, but we are discussing mitigation strategies for when counties do move back into substantial."

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports 70 new COVID-19 cases and 1 more death


WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials have reported 70 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. The latest figures released Monday night bring the total number of known cases to 12,641 with 594 known deaths. Tribal health officials say 132,720 people have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and 7,795 have recovered.

The Navajo Nation Department of Health previously issued a health advisory warning to residents about the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus that has affected 29 communities throughout the reservation, which spans more than 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Learn more here.

School leaders, state officials implore public to reduce COVID-19 for sake of education


COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Arizona, and school superintendents and state officials are pleading with the public to slow the spread of the virus for the sake of students and teachers.

While some schools are teaching in person and some remain entirely online, the majority of schools across the state are in a hybrid instruction model. In a Monday press conference, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said despite the challenges that creates for teachers, students and families, recent spikes in COVID-19 cases indicate remote learning could continue for a long time, and winter sports aren't safe to begin in half the counties in the state.

Learn more here.

'We have peace': After Biden win, DACA recipients reflect on the last decade


After Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election on Saturday, recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, breathed a sigh of relief.

The Obama-era program gives some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children protection from deportation and a work permit. The Trump administration spent years rolling back those protections and Biden promised to reinstate them if elected.

Daniela Ofelia Nava Leyva is a U.S. citizen, but her family includes DACA recipients and undocumented people. They were all together when they learned Joe Biden would be the next president.

"Once we heard the news, we all got together and had a big full family breakfast. And it just sunk in in that moment, like, we have peace," she said.

Learn more here.

Electric utility pledges $127M to Navajo Nation, renewable energy

Fronteras Desk

Arizona's largest utility APS announced a $127 million cash commitment to the Navajo Nation over the next 10 years.

The money is meant to provide transitional support to communities affected by the closure and environmental effects of the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station.

Navajo environmental activist Nicole Horseherder, with the grassroots organization Tó Nizhóní Ání helped arrange the agreement to help the communities.

“It represents the beginning of the obligation that utilities and other stakeholders have to the communities that have helped build their profits,” Horseherder said.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation President: Native Americans helped Biden win

Fronteras Desk

Former Vice President Joe Biden is now President-elect Joe Biden after the race was called in his favor Saturday.

Biden can partly credit his win to impressive turnout among Indigenous Americans, especially those living in Arizona, who turned out in near-record numbers.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says this victory may not have been possible without strong Native outreach.

"This time around I said, you know what, let’s inspire, let's encourage the Native American vote all across the country," he said. "I appreciate meeting with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in Phoenix, and had a dialogue, and I think those types of events really inspired the Native American voters to come out to the polls and cast their votes for change."

Learn more here.

Sonora moves from yellow to orange on coronavirus 'traffic light' system

Fronteras Desk

After weeks at yellow, or medium pandemic risk, Sonora has moved back to orange, or high risk.

That’s according to the federal semáforo — or traffic light — system, which classifies states according to four colors from green to red. Each color comes with restrictions and other measures intended to slow coronavirus spread. Three other states - Sinaloa, Durango and Guanajuato - also saw their rating worsen.

“People that live in these four states ... should be attentive to the instructions that their health officials at different levels — state and municipal — will be generating,” said federal Director of Epidemiology José Luis Alomía.

Learn more here.

Senator-elect Mark Kelly names team, in temporary DC office


PHOENIX — Democrat Mark Kelly has been assigned temporary office space in Washington and has named a transition team as he awaits formal swearing in as a U.S. senator representing Arizona.

Kelly won the Arizona Senate seat once held by John McCain. Arizona will send two Democrats to the Senate for the first time in nearly 70 years when Kelly joins Kyrsten Sinema in Washington.

Kelly announced the bipartisan transition team on Monday as he prepares to take office as soon as Nov. 30. The team is made up of leaders with expertise on key issues like defense, water, education, public health and tribal communities.

Learn more here.

Indigenous candidates' wins in Congress give hope for change


FLAGSTAFF — Internet access, health care and basic necessities like running water and electricity within Indigenous communities have long been at the center of congressional debates. But until recently, Congress hasn’t had many Indigenous members who were pushing for solutions and funding for those issues.

Hope is growing after the Native delegation in the U.S. House expanded by two on Election Day. Wins by Cherokee member Yvette Herrell in New Mexico and Native Hawaiian Kai Kahele in Hawaii brought the number in Congress to six.

Scholars say representation is progress and the product of efforts to put forth Indigenous candidates, increase voter turnout and Native communities flexing their political muscle.

Learn more here.

Arizona county to toss cases after voters OK legal pot


PHOENIX — The prosecutor’s office in Arizona’s most populous county says all pending cases for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana will be dismissed after the state’s voters approved a legalization measure.

The decision by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office also applies to cases for possessing paraphernalia and marijuana concentrates covered by Proposition 207.

Nearly 60% of voters who cast ballots last week backed the measure eliminating all criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession. The new law takes effect when election results are certified in about three weeks but a spokeswoman says the county attorney didn't want people arrested or jailed for something voters wanted legalized.

Learn more here.

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