/ Modified jan 30, 2021 5:20 p.m.

News roundup: Biden brings changes to AZ, Navajo Nation hits 1K COVID-19 deaths

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Jan. 29.

Arizona COVID-19 cases: 7 days

Map shows COVID-19 cases and case rates over the week preceding the last update.

Credit: Nick O'Gara/AZPM. Sources: The New York Times, based on reports from state and local health agencies, Census Bureau. Case reports do not correspond to day of test.

Cases 748,260 | Deaths 13,022

On Friday, Jan. 29, Arizona reported 5,028 new cases of COVID-19 and 203 additional deaths. On Thursday, Jan. 28, the Navajo Nation, once a coronavirus hotspot, surpassed 1,000 deaths due to COVID-19.

Shifting immigration polices under Biden and their impacts in Arizona

Arizona 360

This week Arizona 360 looks at the Biden Administration’s early moves on immigration and border security policies and how they impact Arizona.

Tracey Horan with the Kino Border Initiative describes some of the lasting challenges facing migrants under the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy and how some are responding to new leadership at the White House. University of Arizona assistant professor Javier Osorio also explains some of the factors driving recent migration patterns from Central America.

The Arizona Republic’s U.S.-Mexico border reporter Rafael Carranza discusses which of the immigration policies President Biden has reversed or continued from the previous administration.

Tony Paniagua reports on how a halt on border wall construction could impact border communities. Cross-border trade adviser Luis Ramirez offers an update on the impact of ongoing travel restrictions at ports of entry.

Watch the full episode here.

Supply, communication stymie Rillito Park vaccination plan


Pima County officials hope to use Rillito Park, the site of the county's horse track, for a different kind of race -- the race to vaccinate everyone against COVID-19. But that effort has been stymied by a lack of resources and by miscommunication.

The state has set up a 24-hour drive-through vaccination point at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, with capacity to deliver 6,000 shots per day. But nothing of that size exists in Pima County.

State Health Director Cara Christ said the county declined state help setting up a point of distribution.

Not so, says county health director Theresa Cullen. She says Pima County welcomes state help setting up a vaccination "pod" at Rillito Park, to deliver up to 5,000 shots a day, when enough vaccines and enough staffing are available to keep it going for the long haul.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports 1,000 COVID-19 deaths


The Navajo Nation reported Thursday it reached 1,000 deaths related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic a year ago.

The majority of those who have died are between the ages of 60 and 69, next are septuagenarians, followed by those in their eighties or older. In the two younger age groups, more males have died, but the oldest demographic has seen more females die due to the disease.

According to the Navajo Department of Health, the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, the total number of positive cases in the Navajo Nation is 27,987, as of Thursday.

Learn more here.

Pascua Yaqui Tribe secures federal grant for water pipeline


The Pascua Yaqui Tribe received a $900,000 federal grant to construct a water pipeline to bring non-potable water to their reservation southwest of Tucson.

Residents of the tribal reservation will be the first in Arizona to benefit from the 2020 Water Resources Development Act. The water line will split off of the main canal of the Central Arizona Project, bringing in non-potable water to irrigate the tribe's Wellness Center, a park and ball fields.

Robyn Interpreter is one of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe's water rights attorneys. She said the Pascua Yaqui Tribe's water infrastructure is provided by the City of Tucson, but due to some water restrictions the amount of water going to the reservation is limited "so that Tucson had certainty."

Learn more here.

In letter to DHS, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich opposes Biden's deportation moratorium


Nearly a week after it was supposed to go into effect, President Joe Biden's 100-day deportation moratorium is at a standstill thanks to a federal judge in Texas barred the order from taking hold for two weeks. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich followed suit with his own letter opposing it.

In the letter sent to Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske, Brnovich said the moratorium violated the Sanctuary for Americans First Enactment Agreement, or SAFE, an agreement Arizona, Texas and other states signed with DHS during Donald Trump's last days in office.

Under SAFE, states would be allowed longer periods to consider and provide input for federal policy changes, among other allowances. In his letter, Brnovich argues the 100-day moratorium did not comply because it went into effect immediately. He also claims the freeze could be extended if left unchallenged.

Learn more here.

AZ weekly unemployment continues to be a mixed bag


Regular unemployment claims continue to stay steady in Arizona. The latest numbers released by the state Department of Economic Security showed that 54,000 claims were paid during the week ending Jan. 23.

That number has remained steady during the month of January, but the number of pandemic unemployment claims continue to rise.

For the same time period, 102,000 PUA claims were paid, an increase of nearly 8,000 claims over the week before.

Learn more here.

On Hard-Hit Navajo Nation, Demand For COVID-19 Vaccines Is High

Fronteras Desk

COVID-19 vaccination events on the Navajo Nation are being met with overwhelming demand.

In a livestream video this week from a vaccination event at Sage Memorial Hospital on the Navajo Nation, incident commander Chris West said 100 cars were lined up when the site opened in the morning and vaccines had already run out by midday.

“Every week we’re falling short of the allotments that we need to give to our community. It’s really nice to see our community and their interest in coming out to get the vaccine," West said.

The Navajo Nation has been extremely hard-hit by COVID-19. The rate of death from the virus on the reservation is three times higher than Arizona’s rate.

Learn more here.

Arizona reports 203 more virus deaths as toll passes 13,000


PHOENIX — Arizona, a national hot spot and the U.S. state with the worst COVID-19 diagnosis rate, has now reported over 13,000 coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began.

The Department of Health Services on Friday reported 203 additional deaths. The state also reported 5,028 additional confirmed virus cases, increasing the state’s totals to 748,260 cases and 13,022 deaths. Arizona’s COVID-19 deaths passed the 12,000 mark one week earlier.

COVID-19 related hospitalizations and the state’s seven-day rolling averages of new known daily cases and daily deaths have slowed recently, but hospital officials this week urged Arizonans against becoming complacent about mask wearing and social distancing.

Learn more here.

GOP bills target Arizona voting laws after Trump's loss


PHOENIX — The Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature is considering a wide variety of bills to change the way Arizona conducts elections, including one that would allow lawmakers to overturn presidential election results.

The measures moving through the House and Senate come after Democratic President Joe Biden won the state and former President Donald Trump baselessly questioned the results. Other measures range from purging people from the permanent early voting list to making it easier to recount election results.

Republicans say their bills seek to boost trust in Arizona’s elections and ensure they run more smoothly. But Democrats and voting rights advocates say they'll make it harder for people to vote.

Learn more here.

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