/ Modified dec 1, 2020 4:24 p.m.

News roundup: State breaks single-day case count record, UA secures online university

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Dec. 1.

Cases 337,139 | Deaths 6,687

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, Arizona reported 10,322 new cases ofCOVID-19 and 48 deaths. Tuesday’s reported case count reflects the record for a single day, however officials say the holidays lead to a delay in reports which contributed to the high case number, according to the Associated Press.

Arizona cites holiday reporting delays for record 10K cases


PHOENIX — Arizona on Tuesday reported over 10,000 new known coronavirus cases, but the state said the record number which is nearly three times the latest seven-day daily rolling average reflected not only the current surge but also delayed reporting due to the holiday weekend.

The state’s coronavirus dashboard reported 10,322 additional cases and 48 additional deaths as hospitalizations continued to increase. Arizona’s largest daily case report on a single day was 4,878 on July 1.

Data from The COVID Tracking Project shows the state's latest seven-day rolling average of daily new cases at 3,499 on Monday, when the state reported only 822 new cases.

UA acquires for-profit Ashford University, launches new online 'campus'


The University of Arizona has acquired an online, for-profit university with a controversial history, leaving some in the university community wondering what the deal means for the UA's reputation.

The UA acquired Ashford University's 35,000 students Tuesday in a bid to create a new independent nonprofit entity dubbed UA Global Campus to compete in the online education space. Ashford has a controversial history, and its parent company will continue to operate the online university as a contractor.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges approved the deal last week, but that approval comes with conditions. The UA has 90 days to figure out how it will address Ashford's low student graduation and retention rates.

Learn more here.

Arizona officially certifies election results


Arizona officials have certified the state’s election results.

The action formalizes Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory over Donald Trump even as the Republican president’s attorneys continued making baseless claims of fraud in the state’s vote count.

The certification confirms the state's 11 electoral votes will go to President-elect Joe Biden and clears the way for Sen.-elect Mark Kelly, a Democrat. Because he is taking over the final two years of the late Sen. John McCain's term, Kelly will now be sworn in as senator on Wednesday.

Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs certified the election results alongside Gov. Doug Ducey, Attorney General Mark Brnovich — both Republicans — and State Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel.

Learn more here.

Tucson mayor recommends mandatory curfew


Tucson Mayor Regina Romero Monday said she has called a special City Council meeting for 5 p.m. Tuesday, to ask the council to approve a three-week mandatory curfew to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The curfew would restrict nonessential travel between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. starting Dec. 1 through Dec. 22.

In a statement released by her office Romero also called for Gov. Doug Ducey to take measures to protect Arizonans’ health statewide.

Romero also says she will ask the council to vote on "additional economic relief for workers, families, and small businesses."

Tucson snowbird trend slows in 2020


Late fall is usually when the snowbirds — or seasonal residents — start arriving in Tucson. But that trend has changed this year.

Tucson Association of Realtors President Billy Mordka suggests one reason is because many who arrived last winter never left, due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

"They were more comfortable here than they were in their home states," said Mordka. "They were more comfortable here because they didn't have to travel anywhere."

Mordka notes specific numbers on this season's arrivals aren't available yet. But he says last year at this time, the snowbird population was approaching its seasonal peak, and a lot of those part-time residents decided against risking travel during the springtime onset of the pandemic.

Mordka also says some snowbirds spent the summer remodeling their Tucson homes, providing a boost for the local construction industry.

Navajo Nation finds 177 more COVID-19 cases, 5 new deaths


WINDOW ROCK — The Navajo Nation is reporting more than 170 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths. Navajo health officials announced Sunday a new tally of 177 newly confirmed virus cases, bringing the total to 16,427, including 27 delayed unreported cases.

The death toll from COVID-19 on the vast reservation that includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah now stands at 653. So far, 8,676 have recovered from COVID-19, and 157,860 COVID-19 tests have been administered.

Residents remain under a stay-at-home order, with an exception for essential workers and essential needs like food, medication and emergencies. Essential businesses are limited to hours between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation health director named to Biden COVID-19 board


PHOENIX — The executive director of the Navajo Nation Department of Health has been named a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board.

KPHO-TV reported Dr. Jill Jim was among the board members announced as part of Biden’s transition team preparing to implement the president-elect’s coronavirus containment plans.

The Navajo Nation member's work has focused on preventing chronic diseases and addressing healthcare and health disparities involving Native Americans and Alaska Natives. She most recently served as a cabinet member in the administration of Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer.

Learn more here.

Kelly to take Senate oath of office on Wednesday


PHOENIX — Democrat Mark Kelly is set to take his seat in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday. State officials certified Arizona's election results Monday showing Kelly's victory over Republican Martha McSally. That paves the way for the retired astronaut to take the oath of office.

Kelly is taking office more than a month ahead of other senators elected in November because he was chosen in a special election to finish the last Senate term of the late John McCain.

The GOP’s Senate majority will fall to 52 members when Kelly replaces McSally, who was appointed to hold McCain's seat until the election.

Lawsuits defy Arizona initiative taxing wealthy for schools


PHOENIX — Two lawsuits were filed Monday challenging a proposition that Arizona voters approved to impose an additional 3.5% tax on individuals earning above $250,000 to pay school teacher salaries and training.

The Goldwater Institute filed one action on behalf of a coalition of taxpayers, legislators, and small business groups, calling Proposition 208 unconstitutional. A business owner and a retired local judge filed the second suit in Maricopa County Superior Court.

The lawsuits argue that under the Arizona Constitution, the power to tax and spend state funds rests with the Legislature. One of the proposition's authors predicted the litigation will not prevail.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation lawmakers consider extending junk food tax


FARMINGTON, N.M. — Lawmakers on the Navajo Nation are considering a bill to extend a 2% sales tax on unhealthy food and beverages sold on the reservation.

The tribe approved the Healthy Diné Nation Act in November 2014 to tax food with minimal or no nutritional value. The tax expires this year unless lawmakers vote to extend it.

The bill refines what would be subject to the tax, and clarifies its administration and enforcement.

The Daily Times in Farmington reports that the tax has generated more than $7.5 million over the past few years. It is meant to fund things like wellness centers and walking trails.

Learn more here.

University researchers recommend 3-week shutdown, mask order


PHOENIX — University researchers say the current surge in the coronavirus outbreak will present Arizona with a hospital crisis that could become a disaster unless the state takes steps such as ordering a three-week stay-home shutdown and implementing a statewide mask mandate.

Members of the COVID Modeling Team at the University of Arizona said without such steps, it would be like facing a major forest fire without evacuation orders. The team has tracked the outbreak since last spring and made its recommendations in a letter Friday to the state Department of Health Services. The department said it is on “high alert" and closely monitoring the situation.

Arizona on Saturday reported 4,136 additional known COVID-19 cases and 36 more deaths.

Learn more here.

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