/ Modified apr 21, 2021 10:42 p.m.

News roundup: State nixes FEMA vaccination site plans, planetary scientists look ahead

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, April 21.

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 855,804 | Deaths 17,199

On Wednesday, April 21, Arizona reported 649 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths.

No FEMA vaccination pod for Pima County


Pima County has pivoted to "Plan B" after state and federal officials reached an impasse over a proposal for a large-scale federal vaccination site targeted at under-served populations.

What started as a plan for a federally-supported site potentially vaccinating 6,000 people a day has morphed into 6 mobile vaccination clinics serving one-quarter as many people.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that state and federal representatives could not agree on terms for the original arrangement.

"What we have done is pivoted to a request of FEMA that is for 6 mobile pods, each providing approximately 250 to 350 shots per day," Huckelberry said.

Learn more here.

Planetary scientists look ahead to new airborne explorers


The successful flight of Ingenuity - an unmanned helicopter on Mars - is paving the way for an upcoming University of Arizona-connected mission.

The Dragonfly spacecraft is projected to fly over the surface of Titan, one of the moons of Saturn, in 2036. It will follow in the footsteps of NASA’s Ingenuity demonstration experiment which took an historic short hop on Mars. UA planetary scientist Tim Swindle notes a helicopter like Ingenuity gives researchers new tools for space exploration.

Ingenuity’s controllers are trying to guide it through the thin atmosphere of Mars. Dragonfly will tackle a thicker atmosphere on Titan, which is suspected of having an interior ocean beneath a surface of water ice. Its proposed launch date is 2027.

Ducey says National Guard will go first to Yuma


PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey says National Guard troops being sent to the border region will focus initially on the Yuma area.

The Republican governor said Wednesday that Guard’s mission spans the state’s entire southern border and Guard members could eventually be sent to other areas besides Yuma.

The Republican governor traveled to Yuma to renew his frequent criticism of President Joe Biden’s administration. He says the federal government isn’t doing enough to address an increase in migration or to help local communities.

Ducey says the state will pay for up to 250 members of the National Guard to help free up law enforcement.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation: No COVID-related deaths for 10th day in a row


WINDOW ROCK — The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported finding no new COVID-19 related deaths for the 10th consecutive day.

The tribe reported nine 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 30,380 with the death toll remaining at 1,262. Tribal health officials say more than 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.

GOP advances Arizona election bill criticized by businesses


PHOENIX — Arizona Republicans have advanced an election bill that’s drawn fierce opposition from voting rights advocates, Democrats and prominent business executives.

The measure would purge inconsistent voters from the popular permanent early voting list. It passed the House in a party-line vote Tuesday.

Critics say the measure would disenfranchise voters, with an especially strong impact on people of color. Republicans say the measure is necessary to limit the number of unvoted ballots in circulation.

The bill would remove people who don’t return their mail ballot for two consecutive election cycles from the permanent list. About 75% of Arizona voters are on the list.

Learn more here.

Maricopa County delivering ballots, equipment for audit


PHOENIX — Arizona's most populous county has started delivering election equipment and 2.1 million ballots cast in November's election to Veterans Memorial Coliseum for a recount and audit commissioned by Republicans in the state Senate.

The deliveries by Maricopa County that started Wednesday will kick off weeks of counting at the fairgrounds site rented by the state Senate.

The county refused to allow its facilities to be used after losing a court fight set off by a Senate subpoena for the election material.

Last month, the county released the results of two new audits of its equipment that showed no malicious software or incorrect counting equipment.

Learn more here.

Jill Biden visits Southwest US amid vaccine push


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — First lady Jill Biden is kicking off a three-day, two-state visit to the U.S. Southwest with a tour of a vaccination clinic in Albuquerque.

Wednesday's tour comes as the nation is set to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of administering 200 million coronavirus doses in his first 100 days in office.

New Mexico has been among the leading states when it comes to vaccination distribution. Nearly 39% of New Mexico residents 16 and older have been fully vaccinated.

While eligibility was expanded earlier this month, the focus is now shifting to younger people ahead of the summer break.

Learn more here.

Mexico’s President Receives Vaccine, Urges Other Older Mexicans To Follow Suit

Fronteras Desk

Mexico’s president publicly received a coronavirus vaccine Tuesday, in part to encourage other older Mexicans to get their shots.

The 67-year-old received an injection of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine.

“To start with, the vaccine doesn’t hurt,” the president said, after calling on all eligible older Mexicans to get the shot.

Currently only frontline healthcare personnel, Mexicans over the age of 60 and more recently educators in some states are eligible to receive doses.

The president’s dose was one of about 14,600,000 doses administered in the country so far, which works out to a rate roughly seven times slower than the neighboring United States, according to the most recent official dose counts from each country.

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