Arizona COVID-19 one-week snapshot, Oct. 14

Since last week, Arizona reported 5,097 new cases (2% increase), 39 more deaths (1% increase) and a statewide positive test rate of 6.7%. The state reported a daily average of 728 cases and 6 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 totals including diagnostic and serology tests. Positive test rate is calculated using reported case and test totals. Daily reports may not reflect recent data, the state says.
Early end ordered to Arizona’s voter registration extension


PHOENIX — An appeals court has ordered an early end to an extension of Arizona’s voter registration deadline. The extension had been ordered by a judge after pandemic restrictions led to a decrease in people signing up to vote.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said voter registration will end on Thursday, instead of Oct. 23. Arizona has recorded more than 43,000 new registrations in the week since the deadline was extended. People who have already completed registrations during the extension period will be allowed to vote in the Nov. 3 general election. The appeals court also gave Arizonans a two-day grace period to complete their registrations.

More here.

UA researchers find longer-lasting immunity for COVID-19 patients


COVID-19 researchers at the University of Arizona have found that a patient’s immunity persists long after being infected with the coronavirus.

Immunobiologist Deepta Bhattacharya says a recently completed study followed up with patients after they had recovered from infection and found they were still producing antibodies seven months after they had first fallen ill.

The research indicates immunity is stable in recovering patients for at least five months. Study co-author Michael Dake says the research gives scientists the ability to accurately test for antibodies against COVID-

Information from the study was published Tuesday in the science journal Immunity.

Election spurs questions around voting barriers for Indigenous people


As the election approaches, people are asking questions about voting rights of tribal members, and sometimes misleading people about the obvious voting barriers Indigenous voters face while living in tribal lands.

Candidates for Pima County recorder recently discussed some of the voting barriers Indigenous peoples face that result in lower voter registration and turnout.

A voter advocate says certain social issues aren’t the most obvious barriers for voters who live in tribal lands.

Learn more here.

Shedd challenges O’Halleran in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District


Arizona’s 1st Congressional District is one of the largest and most diverse in the country.
In the coming election, voters will choose between two candidates who each claim to represent a broad range of concerns.

The sprawling 1st District reaches into the Phoenix and Tucson suburbs, touches 11of the state’s 15 counties, and goes all the way to the state’s northeastern tip at the four corners.

Since 1940, it’s been represented in Congress by seven Republicans and five Democrats. The current congressman, Tom O’Halleran, has a bipartisan history of his own. He served as a Republican in the state Legislature before switching parties in 2015, and being elected to the U.S. House the next year as a Democrat.

Republican challenger Tiffany Shedd is a farmer, lawyer and small-business owner based in Eloy. This is the second time she’s run for Congress from the 1st District. Her website describes her as a “constitutional conservative.”

More here.

Grijalva seeks probe into police response to Native protest


Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona has called for an investigation into the state Department of Public Safety’s use of tear gas on protesters who blocked traffic near a border crossing.

The demonstrators protested Monday on Indigenous Peoples Day against the construction of the Trump administration’s border wall on sacred Native American land in Southern Arizona. The state Department of Public Safety said its troopers gave a dispersal order telling protesters they had five minutes to leave the area and that the demonstrators ignored their orders.

Video posted on social media shows DPS officers in riot gear and gas masks as they moved toward the protesters and fired projectiles.

More here.

Arizona’s daily average of virus cases rose in last 2 weeks


PHOENIX — The average number of confirmed daily coronavirus cases in Arizona has risen over the last two weeks, concerning an Arizona State University public health expert.

The state’s average number of cases increased from 476 per day on Sept. 29 to 685 on Oct. 13. Arizona averaged more than 4,000 additional cases per day in late June and early July when it was experiencing its most serious spread of the virus. Dr. Joshua LaBaer is executive director of the ASU Biodesign Institute and said Wednesday that the current situation reminds him of June.

Arizona has recorded 227,635 confirmed virus cases and 5,772 deaths since the pandemic began.

More here.

Tax on wealthy to fund Arizona schools spurs election fight

PHOENIX — Public schools in Arizona that have weathered a decade of funding cuts with only partial restoration could see a big infusion of cash if a ballot measure backed by teachers and advocacy groups passes in November.

But opponents in the business community say Proposition 208 will hurt the economy and only bring partial relief. The Invest in Education Act would impose a 3.5% tax surcharge on income above $250,000 for an individual or above $500,000 for couples. Proponents say it could raise about $940 million a year for schools. The money would go to teacher and support staff raises, vocational education and teacher training.

More here.

Phoenix breaks record with 144th day of triple digit heat


PHOENIX— The temperature in Phoenix has hit 100 degrees, breaking the record for the most days of triple-digit heat in a calendar year.

National Weather Service meteorologists confirmed Phoenix reached 100-degree heat shortly after 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, making it the 144th day of 100 degrees or higher. This breaks the previous record of 143 days in 1989. Phoenix has already set several weather records this year with 50 days of 110-degree heat and the hottest August ever since tracking began in 1896.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Arizona and California had their warmest April-September period in 126 years.

FBI seeking former Arizona DPS officer in a $9M fraud scheme


PHOENIX — The FBI is looking for a retired Arizona Department of Public Safety officer who is wanted in connection with a $9 million fraud scheme.

They say a reward of up to $25,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of 54-year-old Frederick Arias. FBI officials in Phoenix said that between December 2015 and October of 2017, Arias allegedly told investors that The Joseph Project was a safe and secure investment with guaranteed profits.
But Arias allegedly withdrew funds to pay personal expenses and wired funds overseas.

Arias worked for the DPS from 1987-2008 and is said to have ties to Canada, Norway, Australia, the Czech Republic and the Dominican Republic.

More here.

Tucson airport to break ground on new runway


The Tucson International Airport is about to get a facelift, and at $300 million, it’s the largest in the airport history.

The Tucson Airport Authority on Thursday will break ground on a project to rebuild an existing general aviation runway as a two-mile-long commercial runway capable of landing passenger planes. The upgrade will also bring the decades-old airfield in line with modern safety regulations, adding a taxi lane between the new runway and the existing commercial runway.

More here.

Arizona lawmaker released from hospital after COVID-19 fight


PHOENIX — An Arizona lawmaker who was critically ill with COVID-19 has been released from a hospital.

Democratic Rep. Lorenzo Sierra of Avondale will recover for a few days in the Washington area before returning to Arizona. Sierra’s wife, Rhonda Cagle, posted the news on Twitter alongside a photo of the couple smiling in a vehicle. Sierra spent several days on a ventilator in an intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Sierra and Cagle were visiting relative in the Washington area when both fell sick with COVID-19.

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