News Roundup: Voting in Pima County, Kelly and McSally vie for Senate seat

Arizona COVID-19 one-week snapshot, Oct. 6

This map tracks changes in reported COVID-19 numbers over a one-week period. Since last week, Arizona reported 3,750 new cases (2% increase), 81 more deaths (1% increase) and a statewide positive test rate of 5.9%. The state reported a daily average of 536 cases and 12 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.
Cases 221,934 | Deaths 5,713

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Arizona reported 864 new COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths. The true number of cases in Arizona may be higher because not everyone who has the virus shows symptoms or gets tested, according to the Associated Press.

A guide to voting in Pima County


Arizona is one of the states pegged as a battleground on Nov. 3. Like so much else this year, the election promises to be historic and unprecedented. If you’ve already registered to vote, here’s a guide to making sure your vote counts. Keep in mind the election timeline, different methods of voting and ballot tracking.

Martha McSally looks for win in Senate race


Martha McSally is a well-known name in Southern Arizona. She represented the 2nd Congressional District for two terms before losing the U.S. Senate race to Kyrsten Sinema in 2018.

After the narrow loss, Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McSally to the Senate to fill John McCain’s term until an election could be held. She has held that seat since Jan. 2019.

Before McSally was a member of Congress, she was an Air Force pilot. She was the first woman to fly in combat. She flew missions in the A-10 during Operation Southern Watch in Kuwait. McSally is also the first woman to command an Air Force combat unit. She was the commander of the 354th Fighter Squadron at Tucson’s Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

The COVID-19 pandemic has marked McSally’s second year in the Senate.

Learn more here.

Mark Kelly wants to go from space to the Capitol


Mark Kelly became a familiar name in Southern Arizona before he decided to run for the remainder of John McCain’s term in the US Senate.
Kelly is married to former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. He is also an astronaut who flew four Space Shuttle missions, spending a total of nearly 60 days in space. Kelly is also a retired Naval aviator who flew combat missions in Operation Desert Storm.

The campaign for Senate is happening during a pandemic and as such, health care and the economy have grown into major themes for Kelly.

Learn more here.

Kelly, McSally meet Tuesday night for only Senate debate


PHOENIX — Republican Sen. Martha McSally and her Democratic challenger Mark Kelly meet Tuesday in what’s likely to be the only debate of the campaign. The faceoff provides McSally a much-needed chance to gain ground on Kelly, a retired astronaut who has consistently led the race in polling and fundraising, just before voters begin casting ballots.

In-person early voting begins Wednesday and election officials around the state will begin dropping absentee ballots in the mail the same day.

For Kelly, a first-time candidate, the debate is a chance to show his mettle under pressure.

Learn more here.

Read more coverage of national, Arizona, and local elections at our 2020 elections portal, Your Vote 2020.

Mexico’s COVID-19 Cases, Deaths Increase With New Reporting Methodology

Fronteras Desk

Mexico reported a record number of coronavirus cases and deaths Monday, with an additional 2,789 deaths and 28,115 cases. But that’s not because of a sudden increase in the spread of the virus, says Mexico’s Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell.

“What we have is a reclassification that allows us to have more robust statistics,” López-Gatell said during a press conference Tuesday morning.

The spike, he said, represents the accumulation of months of cases and deaths only now being classified as coronavirus as part of new reporting methodology in Mexico. Now, reported cases and deaths will include those verified by testing, as well as cases confirmed through so-called epidemiological association.

Learn more here.

Migrant Caravan Heading To The U.S. Turns Back

Fronteras Desk

MEXICO CITY — Last week, a migrant caravan from Central America departed from Honduras on its way to the U.S. The Mexican president says American politics had to do with it, but the group is already turning back.

Thousands of migrants arrived in Guatemala over the weekend. But government reports say migrants are walking back or returning in buses, after being convinced that the pandemic represented an obstacle.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said it’s no coincidence that the caravan started a month away from the U.S. presidential elections. Mexico has flexible migratory policies, but the López Obrador administration tightened the southern border by deploying the National Guard and, recently, by imposing pandemic-related health regulations.

Critics of his government say the president yielded to the Trump administration by turning Mexico into the U.S. border wall.

Former Border Patrol Agent Indicted

Fronteras Desk

A former Border Patrol agent who was accused last summer in a drug trafficking conspiracy in Southern Arizona has now been charged in a host of other crimes related to his work securing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Carlos Passapera Pinott was a veteran Border Patrol agent of 10 years. Federal investigators said they found him running hundreds of thousands of fentanyl pills from the border region up to Phoenix. The indictment also accuses him of using his agency vehicle to smuggle undocumented migrants past other Border Patrol agents up to the Phoenix area.

The grand jury demanded he surrender about $700,000 cash, a diamond ring, a car and property in Navajo County it said came from bribes and smuggling proceeds. He’s accused of trafficking for more than a year before he was caught. He resigned from his job days after his arrest.

Arizona reports 864 additional COVID-19 cases, 6 more deaths


PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Health Services on Tuesday reported 864 additional known COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 221,934 cases and 5,713 deaths.

Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press showed decreases in seven-day rolling averages in Arizona of daily new cases and daily deaths. The average of daily new cases went from 789 on Sept. 21 to 509 on Monday while the average of daily deaths dropped from 22 to 12.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Learn more here.

Judge: Video voting OK if necessary due to disability


PHOENIX — A judge ruled Arizona election officials can allow voters to cast ballots through video conferencing if necessary. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner declined a request by Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich to block the practice.

The judge agreed with Brnovich that state law requires “special election boards” that assist people who can’t mark their own ballot to meet with the voter in person. But he says that law is trumped by a federal law requiring that voters with disabilities be accommodated.

Democratic Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes used videoconferencing to help 10 people vote during the August primary. Brnovich and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey say that’s illegal.

Learn more here.

EPCOR to buy embattled Johnson Utilities company in Arizona


PHOENIX — EPCOR USA has reached an agreement to buy the embattled Johnson Utilities water and wastewater company known for its history of sewer overflows and water issues in Arizona.

The Arizona Republic reported that EPCOR USA, which owns smaller water companies statewide, is now managing Johnson Utilities despite protests in 2018 from regulators who had enough of Johnson’s history of service issues. Johnson Utilities has unsuccessfully challenged the takeover in multiple courts and eventually agreed to sell to the company.

The companies have now asked the Arizona Corporation Commission in a Monday filing to state regulators to approve the deal by the end of the year.

Learn more here.

Tourist sites on Navajo Nation to remain closed through 2020


WINDOW ROCK — Tourist sites on the Navajo Nation will be closed through at least the rest of the year. The Navajo Parks and Recreation Department cited a rise in coronavirus cases on the reservation and a public health order in making the announcement. Officials say they’ll reassess in January.

The closure includes tribal parks like the Four Corners Monument, Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park and Lower Antelope Canyon. It also extends to rivers, trails, canyons and roads that lead to those sites.

The tribe reported 11 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday and no additional deaths, bringing the total number of cases on the reservation to 10,454 with 559 known deaths.

Learn more here.

Moving the flip zone: Democrats march deeper into suburbia


PHOENIX — Once firmly in Republican control, suburbs are increasingly politically divided — a rare common ground shared by Republicans and Democrats. As such, they are poised to decide not just who wins the White House this year but also who controls the Senate and the contours of the debate over guns, immigration, work, schools, housing and health care.

The reasons for the shift are many. Suburbs have grown more racially diverse, more educated, more economically prosperous and more liberal. But demographers and political scientists are just as likely to point to another trend: density. Suburbs have grown more crowded, looking more like cities and voting like them, too.

Learn more here.

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