/ Modified apr 20, 2021 4:08 p.m.

News roundup: TUSD could end desegregation order, UA moves vaccination pods indoors

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, April 20.

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 855,155 | Deaths 17,193

On Tuesday, April 20, Arizona reported 702 new cases of COVID-19 and 40 additional deaths.

Judge recommends TUSD be released form desegregation order


Judge David C. Bury, senior U.S. district judge for the district of Arizona, recommended that the Tucson Unified School District be released from the federal court’s supervision and that the district be granted full unitary status in regards to its desegregation order, according to a TUSD news release.

The recommendation is contingent on TUSD submitting a Post Unitary Status Plan, which will outline its transition out of federal court oversight, by May 19, according to district officials.

TUSD superintendent Gabriel Trujillo expressed pride over the ruling. He also said he expects the plaintiffs will appeal.

The district has been in the desegregation lawsuit since the 1970s and was granted Partial Unitary Status in 2018.

UA moving vaccination POD indoors


On April 30, the University of Arizona will close the drive-through portion of its COVID-19 vaccine pod and move all operations inside.

The move is due to increasing temperatures. Other state-run pods and facilities run by Pima County are making similar moves due to the arrival of summer temperatures.

The change for the university will not mean a reduction in the availability of vaccines at the university.

The university, like many other vaccine sites, has seen a decrease in demand recently but there are no plans to allow vaccinations without appointments.

Learn more here.

Arizona reports 702 new COVID-19 cases, another 40 deaths


PHOENIX — Arizona health officials have confirmed 702 new COVID-19 cases and another 40 deaths.

The latest figures released by the state Tuesday bring the total number of cases and deaths since the pandemic’s onset to 855,155 and 17,193, respectively.

Patient hospitalizations for the virus across the state continue a nearly month-long range of hovering between 500 and 600. There were 562 people hospitalized for suspected or confirmed virus cases on Monday, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Meanwhile, the state dashboard also shows more than 4.5 million vaccine doses have been administered.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports no COVID-19 related deaths for 9th day


WINDOW ROCK — The Navajo Nation has reported finding no new COVID-19 related deaths for the ninth consecutive day.

The tribe on Monday reported four new confirmed coronavirus cases, but no additional deaths on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The latest numbers bring the Navajo Nation’s pandemic case total to 30,371 with the death toll remaining at 1,262. Tribal officials say nearly 16,500 people have recovered from COVID-19 thus far.

The tribe had been easing into reopening but that slowed somewhat after coronavirus variants were confirmed on the reservation. Tribal officials urged residents to stay vigilant.

Learn more here.

Virus relief funds Arizona school counselors, social workers


PHOENIX — Arizona schools chief Kathy Hoffman says she’ll use federal coronavirus relief funding to help schools hire 140 counselors and social workers.

Hoffman said Monday that her $21 million plan will provide two years of funding to eliminate the waitlist for school-based mental health professionals across 10 counties.

Hoffman called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to permanently fund the positions so the money doesn't run out after two years. She says students need social and emotional support as they return to classrooms and deal with stresses induced by the pandemic.

Learn more here.

Arizona governor set to OK or veto strict sex ed legislation


PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey faces a deadline to either sign or veto legislation making Arizona's sex education laws among the strictest in the nation when it comes to teaching about LGBTQ issues.

The proposed law would prohibit all discussions about gender identity, sexual orientation or HIV/AIDS in sex education classes unless parents specifically opt in for the instruction. The proposal also applies to discussions of sexual orientation outside of sex ed classes and bans sex ed before 5th grade.

Backers call it a needed parental rights issue. Opponents say it marginalizes LGBTQ children and endangers young kids.

The Republican Ducey must sign or veto the bill on Tuesday.

Learn more here.

Arizona Supreme Court questions new education tax legality


PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court appears to doubt whether hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes collected under a voter initiative enacted in November can be legally spent when a provision of the state constitution caps school spending.

The justices raised the questions during a hearing Tuesday on an expedited constitutional challenge to the new tax on high-earning Arizonans designed to boost school funding.

Opponents of Proposition 208 say the spending cap means $600 million of the $830 million collected can't be spent. Backers say there are ways to spend that cash. The justices will issue a ruling later.

Learn more here.

Arizona issues 13 more licenses for marijuana dispensaries


PHOENIX — Arizona officials have issued 13 more licenses for marijuana stores in eight rural counties.

Accountants hired by the Arizona Department of Health Services used a bingo machine Monday to randomly select lottery winners, who will be allowed to sell marijuana to adults.

Arizona has had medical marijuana dispensaries for a decade.

Voters last year approved selling the drug to all adults regardless of medical conditions. There are currently more than 100 recreational dispensaries operating in the state.

Learn more here.

Abortion ban for genetic issues revived with minor changes


PHOENIX — Republicans who control the Arizona Legislature amended a sweeping anti-abortion bill to satisfy the concerns of a lone GOP Senator who blocked it from advancing earlier this month.

Monday's move clears the way for the House and Senate to give final approval to the measure and send it to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. Democrats spent more than an hour during a conference committee hearing arguing the amendment and the bill put women and doctors at risk.

The bill bans most abortions sought because the fetus has a genetic abnormality, bans mailing abortion medication and confers civil rights to fetuses.

Learn more here.

First lady Jill Biden to visit Albuquerque, Navajo Nation


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — First lady Jill Biden plans to visit an Albuquerque health care facility as part of a three-day, two-state visit to the U.S. Southwest this week.

The White House announced that Biden will be accompanied Wednesday afternoon by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham when she visits a health clinic in the city's South Valley.

Biden is scheduled to visit the Navajo Nation on Thursday where she will meet with Navajo President Jonathan Nez and First Lady Phefelia Nez in Window Rock, Arizona. On Friday, she will attend a listening session with students and visit a vaccination site.

Learn more here.

Jobs Grow In Sonora For 3 Months Straight

Fronteras Desk

Employment numbers in neighboring Sonora are improving.

It’s not a long streak, but at three months it's the longest period of sustained job growth since the pandemic hit the state’s economy hard. From January through March, nearly 30,000 formal jobs were added in Sonora, according to the most recent federal data.

The rise comes after a precipitous fall of more than 14,000 in December. While very large, another 9,000 formal positions are still needed to return to the job levels seen in February 2020, the month before pandemic restrictions went into effect.

Federal jobs data does not include informal workers, who account for a significant portion of the workforce and have experienced significant volatility during the pandemic.

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