Arizona COVID-19 one-week snapshot, Aug. 26

This map tracks changes in reported COVID-19 numbers over a one-week period. Since last week, Arizona reported 3,902 new cases (2% increase), 262 more deaths (6% increase) and a statewide positive PCR test rate of 7%. The state reported a daily average of 557 cases and 37 deaths. Choose a layer and click on a county to learn more.

Credit: Nick O’Gara/AZPM. Sources: ADHS, county health departments, Census 2018 Quick Facts. *Test numbers are for reported diagnostic (PCR) tests and do not include antibody (serology) tests, unlike previous versions of this map. Positive test rate is calculated using reported case and test totals. Daily reports may not reflect recent data, the state says.
COVID-19 Cases: 199,459 | Deaths: 4,896 | PCR tests: 1,165,295

The state reported 187 more cases and 104 deaths on Aug. 26. By Tuesday, Tucson’s biggest school district had closed two schools out following positive COVID-19 tests, while some counties in the state expected to be given the go-ahead to open more businesses.

Citizenship and Immigration Services averts mass staff furloughs


A series of agency-wide staff furloughs slated to start Aug. 30 at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will no longer take place as planned.

In a press release this week, the agency said it had averted furloughs for over 13,000 employees — almost two-thirds of its staff — with aggressive spending cutbacks.

Unlike other federal agencies, USCIS is largely supported by the fees it charges for various immigration procedures. The furloughs were in response to what the agency says is a $1.2 billion funding shortfall caused by a drastic slowdown of those procedures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the release, USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow said furloughs were offset through the end of the agency’s fiscal year on September 30, but it still needed additional support.

Learn more here.

Arizona unemployment continues to grow


Last week, 88,793 Arizona residents filed first-time unemployment claims. That is an increase of nearly 40,000 over the previous week.

It was the second week in a row the number of first-time claims has increased in Arizona.

The biggest increase in first-time claims came from the self-employed. However, the number of first-time claims for regular unemployment increased. Nearly 1.3 million Arizona residents received unemployment benefits last week.

The state unemployment rate is 10.6% while the national average is 10.2% The state rate increased in July as the national average fell almost a full point.

State officials are hoping the number of unemployed will start to drop in the coming weeks as counties qualify to allow more businesses like gyms and theaters to reopen.

Rio Nuevo considering financial boost to keep some Tucson events afloat


With the prospect of public gatherings not resuming until next year, some of Tucson’s annual events are in dire financial straits — and may be getting help.

The Rio Nuevo board voted Tuesday to explore providing up to $250,000 in aid to events that draw thousands to Tucson, including the Dusk Music Festival, El Tour de Tucson, the Arizona Bowl, 2nd Saturdays Downtown and the Tucson Jazz Festival. All have had to cancel or postpone to spring 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Events that literally live from event-to-event are at real risk,” said Rio Nuevo board chair Fletcher McCusker. “What put Tucson on the map was its arts and cultural scene. And it’s gone. And some of these organizations might very well not survive.”

Learn more here.

Only Native American on federal death row executed


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The only Native American on federal death row has been executed in Indiana.

Lezmond Mitchell’s execution Wednesday at the federal prison in Terre Haute came despite objections from many Navajo leaders who had urged President Donald Trump to halt the lethal injection on the grounds it would violate tribal culture and sovereignty. Mitchell was condemned for the grisly slayings of 9-year-old Tiffany Lee and her 63-year-old grandmother, Alyce Slim, in 2001.

The federal government under the pro-death penalty president has now carried out more executions in 2020 than it had in the previous 56 years combined.

Learn more here.