/ Modified feb 5, 2021 6:03 p.m.

News roundup: Changes come to local justice system, health officials answer common vaccine questions

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Feb. 5.

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 775,622 | Deaths 13,948

On Friday, Feb. 5, Arizona reported 3,826 new cases of COVID-19 and 196 additional deaths.


Local officials discuss changes to prosecution, police funding

The Buzz

A change in administration at the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department is bringing some new ideas to prosecution and policing. Meanwhile the Tucson City Council is considering a pay increase for the Tucson Police Department, in spite of community criticism around policing and racial injustice.

This week, The Buzz covers those discussions and gets perspective from the new county officials.

Listen to the full episode here.


Equitable vaccine distribution, homelessness during COVID, State of Education

Arizona 360

University of Arizona public health researcher Dr. Joe Gerald offers answers for some common questions about what it means for individuals after they receive the vaccine.

Dr. David Beyda, chair of the Department of Bioethics and Medical Humanism at the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix, explains some of the challenges the state faces trying to ensure vaccine distribution is equitable.

Pima Council on Aging CEO W. Mark Clark discusses some of the challenges residents 65 and up have experienced when trying to sign up for a vaccine.

Arizona Daily Star education reporter Danyelle Khmara provides analysis on Arizona Superintendent Kathy Hoffman’s latest State of Education address.

Arizona 360 looks at the pandemic’s impact on homelessness in Tucson and how some local nonprofits have adapted to meet the challenges.

Watch the full episode here.


Pima County getting fewer COVID-19 vaccines

AZPM

Pima County received 17,850 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, that is 12,000 fewer doses than it has received in recent weeks.

The reduced number of vaccines brought letters to a number of levels of government from Sharon Bronson, chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, to try and alleviate the problem.

In letters to Governor Doug Ducey, U.S. Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, and U.S. Representatives Raul Grijalva and Ann Kirkpatrick, Bronson wrote that the county has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state and could do more if it had more vaccines.

Learn more here.


Oak Flat: Opposing op-eds try to sway public opinion

AZPM

Two players in the fight over Oak Flat, a site sacred to Apache peoples and the target of an international copper company are making their cases in the Arizona Republic's opinion column.

Project Director Andrew Lye wrote in his Jan. 21 op-ed that the mine would have a positive economic impact and would be a boon to American renewable energy and technology industries.

Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe Terry Rambler shot back in an op-ed Thursday that he and other leading Native organizations "remain vehemently opposed” to the mine, and he called Lye's statement about tribal participation misleading.

Learn more here.


Political strife, pandemic causing public discourse to plunge even lower

AZPM

Researchers say many rank and file Democratic and Republican voters may be closer to common ground on political issues than their elected representatives are.

Keith Allred heads the University of Arizona’s National Institute for Civil Discourse in Washington. He notes the political divide looks different outside the Beltway.

“In fact the research shows the average Republican and the average Democrat is half as far apart on the issues as they think they are," he said.

Learn more here.


Navajo Nation reports 110 new COVID-19 cases, 9 more deaths

AP

WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials on Thursday reported 110 new COVID-19 cases and nine more deaths.

The latest numbers raised the totals to 28,668 cases and 1,047 known deaths since the pandemic began. The Navajo Nation covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

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 56 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 actions in the latest public health emergency order will run through at least Feb. 15.

Learn more here.


Remittances Sent To Sonora Up Nearly 20% In 2020

Fronteras Desk

In 2020, Mexican migrants living in the U.S. and elsewhere sent home more money than ever before — 11% more than the previous record year. In Sonora, remittances increased even more dramatically.

Mexicans living and working abroad sent more than $700 million back home to the state of Sonora last year. That’s nearly 20% more than in 2019 — the sixth-highest percentage increase among Mexico’s 32 states.

All that despite — or perhaps because — of the pandemic, remittances to Mexico soared to $40 billion in 2020, blowing past the previous annual record of $36 billion in 2019


Congressional Dems ask Ducey to explain use of COVID-19 cash

AP

PHOENIX — All five Democratic members of Arizona’s U.S. House delegation want Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to explain how his use of nearly $400 million in federal coronavirus relief money met Congress' intent to provide pandemic relief.

Ducey used more than 20% of the $1.86 billion the state received in federal CARES Act relief cash to backfill agency budgets, allowing them to return money to the general fund. The strategy contributed to a major state budget surplus that the governor now wants to use to cut income taxes by $600 million a year.

Ducey's spokesman says all the spending met CARES Act guidelines.

Learn more here.


Arizona universities team up to detect COVID-19 mutations

AP

PHOENIX — Scientists from three public universities in Arizona said they have joined together to analyze test samples and detect COVID-19 mutations.

KTAR-FM reports that COVID-19 mutations have been occurring with several variants already identified, including one first detected in the United Kingdom that is seemingly more contagious. More than 600 cases of the variant have been identified in the United States.

The University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University are working to analyze samples for genetic anomalies.

The COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna authorized for use in the U.S. offer immunity to the U.K. variant. They are less effective against another variant discovered in South Africa.

Learn more here.


Arizona Republican Party chair sees new heat on her election

AP

PHOENIX — Pressure is rising on the head of the Arizona Republican Party to allow an audit of her recent reelection as she continues to question President Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

Eighteen GOP state lawmakers sent party Chair Kelli Ward a letter this week demanding that she allow an audit of her January reelection, which she won by 42 votes but is increasingly being challenged. The letter demands that Ward either allow an audit or step aside from efforts to audit results in Maricopa County that saw Biden win.

Ward says there's no mechanism to audit the results because they were not formally challenged.

Learn more here.


Sheriff's Department: Man held key fob when shot by deputy

AP

The Pima County Sheriff's Department says a dark object held by a man fatally shot as he allegedly charged a sheriff’s deputy turned out to be a key fob and no gun was found at the scene.

A department statement said Deputy Gilbert Caudillo shot 19-year-old Bradley Alexander Lewis after Lewis used his vehicle to ram a sheriff’s vehicle and then quickly got out while holding a dark object in his hand.

The department statement said deputies had pulled over Lewis after they responded to a report of a man attempting to break into vehicles early the morning of Jan. 20.

Learn more here.

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