/ Modified jan 26, 2021 6 p.m.

News roundup: Winter storm hits southern AZ, anniversary of first AZ COVID case

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Jan. 26.

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 732,643 | Deaths 12,448

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, Arizona reported 4,748 new cases of COVID-19 and 209 additional deaths.


Winter storm could be 'most significant' of the season

AZPM

The National Weather Service in Tucson is warning this could be the "most significant" storm of the season for Southeast Arizona.

There were 14 inches of snow in Summerhaven and the Tucson Metro area saw on average two-tenths of rain by Monday afternoon. Over the weekend, a tenth to three-quarters of an inch of rain fell over the city.

Ken Drozd, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tucson, said after a dry start to the month, precipitation totals are pretty close to the January norm.

He said this rain feels like an anomaly due to the Pacific Ocean temperatures, known as La Niña, which brings a drier than normal winter.

Learn more here.


Arizona begins second year of COVID-19

AZPM

January 25, 2020 was the day Arizona reported a case of COVID-19. The person, who was not named, was associated with Arizona State University and had recently traveled to China.

In the one year since the first case Arizona has become the hotspot for cases in the country with close to 50,000 cases in the last week, according to Johns Hopkins University.

University of Arizona President Robert Robbins said with hindsight he wishes for one thing.

“I wish we would have had an immediate national policy and gotten on this stuff a year ago,” said Robbins.

Learn more here.


Escaped inmates still on the run

AZPM

State, local, and federal law enforcement officers spent Monday searching for two inmates who escaped from a prison in Florence on Saturday.

The two men, David Harmon and John Charpiot, were last seen at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Law enforcement set up a perimeter within a few miles of the prison and spent Monday conducting a door-to-door search.

Head of the Arizona Department of Public Safety Col. Heston Silbert Silbert is asking residents to notify law enforcement if they have not seen a neighbor or coworker in recent days if that is out of the ordinary.

Learn more here.


Arizona reports 4,748 virus cases one year after 1st case

AP

PHOENIX — Arizona reported 4,748 new known coronavirus cases and 209 deaths on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of when the state confirmed its coronavirus case.

The latest numbers reported by the Department of Health Services increased the state’s pandemic totals to 732,643 known cases and 12,448 deaths.

Arizona has been a national virus hot spot during both the surge last summer and the even deadlier one this fall and winter.

The Department of Health Services announced the state’s first case on Jan. 26, 2020, saying it was a Maricopa County resident who had recently returned from travel to Wuhan, China, a city that was at the epicenter of the outbreak.

Learn more here.


Navajo Nation reports 89 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths

AP

WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials on Monday reported 89 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths as a revised public health order is set to take effect.

The latest figures bring the total reported coronavirus cases on the reservation to 27,573 with 977 known deaths.

On Monday, the tribe extended its stay-at-home order with a revised nightly curfew to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Navajo Department of Health has identified 53 communities with uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus, down from 75 communities in recent weeks. The Navajo Nation also is lifting weekend lockdowns to allow more vaccination events.

The Navajo Nation extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Learn more here.


After Nearly A Year Of Restrictions, Arizona Ports End 2020 With Big Crossing Drops

Fronteras Desk

After nearly a full year of restrictions, crossings through Arizona ports of entry in 2020 were down significantly from 2019, according to recently released federal data.

Last year, 3.9 million pedestrians and 9.5 million people in cars crossed into Arizona from Mexico. While those are big numbers, they represent drops of roughly 45% and 42% from 2019, thanks in large part to restrictions on nonessential trips that went into effect in March. Truck traffic, which hasn’t been impacted by the restrictions, was up slightly.

In April, pedestrian and passenger crossings reached a year-over-year low point, and were both down about 70%. Since then monthly pedestrian crossings have never been more than half of the previous year’s figure.

Passengers, however, rose through October and ended the year at 56% of December 2019’s figure.


Sonora Interested In Buying AstraZeneca, Russian Vaccines

Fronteras Desk

Sonora, Arizona’s neighbor to the south, is hoping to soon be able to acquire vaccines on its own.

State officials recently sent letters of interest to AstraZeneca and the makers of the Russian vaccine Sputnik.

“In coming days we will continue exploring the best options in terms of price and delivery times,” said Sonoran Health Secretary Enrique Clausen.

Vaccination started earlier this month, with the first round focused on frontline health care workers.


GOP lawmakers take aim at Ducey's pandemic emergency powers

AP

PHOENIX — Arizona legislative Republicans are pushing to cut off broad emergency powers that Gov. Doug Ducey has used to restrict large gatherings and business occupancy during the coronavirus pandemic.

A Senate committee voted Monday to end the public health emergency that gives the state access to millions of dollars in federal funds and expands Ducey’s powers. The Government Committee also advanced various proposals that would make it easier for lawmakers to shut down the governor’s powers during a future emergency.

Supporters say the Republican governor should be able to take immediate actions to respond to a pressing emergency but eventually the Legislature should have a say.

Democrats say involving lawmakers would slow and politicize the process.

Learn more here.


Arizona county to audit machines used in November election

AP

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors plans to hire two firms to audit equipment and software used in the November election.

The Arizona county's results have been challenged with unsubstantiated claims of fraud from Republicans who question President Joe Biden’s Arizona victory.

Board Chairman Jack Sellers defended the accuracy of the vote count in the state's most populous county. But he said Tuesday that the county is trying to show doubters that the election was free and fair.

Separately, the county is negotiating with the state Senate over subpoenas seeking access to election equipment and ballots.

Learn more here.


Snow buries northern Arizona; flurries delight in desert

AP

FLAGSTAFF — A major winter storm buried northern Arizona in snow on Monday while sending flurries to the outskirts of Las Vegas and Phoenix, delighting desert dwellers.

A series of storms dropped more precipitation in Flagstaff than the city had during last summer's monsoon season. The mountainous northern Arizona city recorded its driest monsoon seasons on record in 2020 and 2019. The snowfall measured as water easily topped the 1.78 inches that fell as rain from mid-June to September.

More snow is expected overnight into Tuesday before the storm moves out, even in lower-lying areas. A blast of cold will follow in its footsteps.

Learn more here.

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