/ Modified nov 17, 2020 8:19 a.m.

News roundup: Napier concedes in Pima sheriff's race, Ducey issues COVID-19 video, virus testing at PCC

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, November 16

Cases 276,912 | Deaths 6,302

On Friday, Nov. 16, the state reported 1,476 new cases of COVID-19. Pima County health officials described rising virus cases as “alarming" as the holiday season approaches.

Napier concedes in Pima sheriff’s race


Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier conceded his race to Democratic challenger Chris Nanos on Monday.

In a statement released on the Sheriff’s Department website, Napier said he waited to concede until all the votes were counted.

“I have not made a statement before now not out of a desire to be difficult, obstinate or acrimonious. Rather, it was out of an abiding respect for the process and for the sanctity of every vote. Now it appears certain that I have not been successful in re-election,” Napier wrote.

The race for Pima County Sheriff was decided by 3,400 votes. More than 500,000 ballots were cast in the race.

Napier said he will remain “actively engaged” as sheriff until his term expires at the end of the year and it is his “duty” to ensure a smooth transition.

The race was a rematch of the 2016 election that Napier won.

Gov. Ducey issues COVID-19 video


Governor Doug Ducey issued a video Monday urging Arizona residents to wear masks, stay physically distant and wash their hands as the number of COVID-19 cases surges in the state.

Earlier this month, Utah’s governor put a statewide mask mandate in place and last week New Mexico announced restrictions as COVID-19 cases spike across the nation. Arizona officials have not made any similar moves.

In the video, Ducey spoke of actions already taken.

“Arizona took several targeted steps this summer to stem the tide. Now as cases rise nationally and in Arizona many of those mitigation measures remain in place. Responsible physical distancing measures, reduced occupancy and mask requirements and compliance,” Ducey said.

Arizona has not statewide mask mandate, though the Department of Health Services requires masks for restaurant workers and in some businesses like gyms.

This summer, Ducey allowed local governments to issue mask mandates after denying them the ability for weeks.

In the video, Ducey also said people need to continue wearing masks, staying apart, and washing their hands.

“This is all about protecting public health and saving lives. Do it for your mom and grandma. Do it for our front-line health care workers. Do it for our teachers,” said Ducey.

Arizona hospitals are seeing a surge of cases. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, currently 12% of ICU beds in the state are available.

At the height of this summer’s surge, Arizona had 9% of ICU beds available.

Ducey last held a public briefing about COVID-19 in late October.

COVID-19 testing available at Pima Community College


Pima Community College is opening COVID-19 test sites on three of its campuses. All three sites will be drive-thru and use the saliva test developed at Arizona State University.

The first site opens Monday, Nov. 16 at the PCC West campus. It will be open every Monday from 9:00 AM to noon.

The other sites on the Desert Vista campus and the East campus will open during the first week of December, on Wednesday and Friday respectively.

The ASU saliva tests are also available at the Ellie Towne Community Center.

There are now close to 80 COVID testing locations in Pima County.

Joe Biden inherits Trump's border wall — and its lawsuits


In downtown Nogales, the Trump administration draped the existing border wall in coils of gleaming razor wire two years ago. Nogales, Arizona, Mayor Art Garino isn’t optimistic that the incoming Biden administration will take it down.

"You know how the government is. Once they put something up, it very seldom comes down" he said, laughing.

Construction on the border wall has raced across Arizona’s desert all year. Since Trump took office, 400 miles of new border wall has gone up. A new report showing the status of the border wall was recently produced by Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The report shows that since Trump took office, the U.S. has built 348 miles of fencing and another 52 miles of secondary border wall.

In an email, a CBP spokesperson wrote: "The majority of contracts have been awarded and construction is well underway for the approximately 738 miles funded to date. Since the U.S. Border Patrol began constructing border barriers nearly 30 years ago, these barriers have proved to be a critical component in gaining operational control of the border and allowing for greater efficiency of manpower."

Last winter, workers blew up land along Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument's border with Mexico to lay footing for the new wall. Semitrucks laden with steel poles convoy down to Sasabe to replace 18-foot-high walls with 30-foot-high ones. In Cochise County, the southernmost spur of the Arizona Trail was shut down so a border wall could be built there.

A coalition of plaintiffs sued the Trump administration for using about $4 billion of military funding to build 270 miles of the border wall. That case is heading to the Supreme Court in February.

ACLU attorney Dror Ladin leads that suit and he’s waiting to see if the new president will withdraw the petition to the Supreme Court. And if he doesn't, "He will be substituted for Trump and the lawsuit will be against Biden as to what is to be done with these illegal wall sections and then he and his administration are going to need to decide if they want to defend this flagrantly illegal thing that Trump did and whether they want to work with border communities and environmental groups to redress it," Ladin said.

Candidate Biden said he will stop wall construction but never said he would tear down the new border wall, a sore point for some of those opposed to the border wall in Arizona

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