/ Modified feb 26, 2021 6:04 p.m.

News roundup: Reflecting on year-long pandemic, vaccinating tribal members, arrest made in UA murder case

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Feb. 26.

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 814,528 | Deaths 15,897

On Friday, Feb. 26, Arizona reported 1,621 new cases of COVID-19 and 83 additional deaths.

Reflecting on Arizona’s pandemic one year in

The Buzz

The coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S. about one year ago.

This week, The Buzz talks about what we knew early on and what we've learned since then about the virus, including the new variants circulating as vaccine rollout continues. We also talk about the economic impact of the pandemic and what lies ahead for Arizona this spring and summer.

Listen to the full episode here.

Learning in person, vaccinating tribal members, immigration policy shifts

Arizona 360

Tony Paniagua visits the International School of Tucson to see how the campus is handling in-person learning and managing the health risks to staff and students.

We check in with Pima County Superintendent Dustin Williams about how districts continue to be challenged by the pandemic, and recent developments from the state that include freezing letter grades and studying learning loss.

Lorraine Rivera visits a COVID-19 vaccination site on the Gila River Indian Reservation and speaks with Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis and Arizona National Guard Col. Tom Leeper about coordination between the two groups and methods for addressing vaccine hesitancy.

Arizona 360 gets an update on pandemic’s impact on operations at Casa Alitas and how the nonprofit is responding to the Biden Administration’s early actions on immigration policies.

Watch the full episode here.

Tucson police make an arrest in the murder of UA student Forrest Becker Keys


Tucson Police Homicide Detectives have arrested a suspect in the murder of 20-year-old University of Arizona sophomore Forrest Beckett Keys, who was shot on campus last weekend near the Cherry Ave. Garage.

The 17-year-old suspect has been booked into Pima County Jail and has been charged with 1st Degree Murder and Drive-by Shooting. AZPM generally does not identify juvenile criminal suspects.

Detectives are continuing the investigation and are currently seeking additional witnesses and suspects. Anyone with information is urged to call 911 or 88-CRIME. You can remain anonymous.

As Biden's deportation moratorium fails in court, advocates look at other options


This week a federal judge in Texas placed an indefinite block on a 100-day deportation moratorium issued by President Joe Biden that sought to allow the government to reconsider enforcement priorities.

Biden’s order met its first legal challenge hours after it was supposed to go into effect in January, when Texas and later Arizona filed suit against it, and District Judge Drew Tipton responded with a 14-day pause.

Judge Tipton’s new ruling this week blocks the order indefinitely. Tucson immigration attorney Mo Goldman said the ruling is disappointing, but not necessarily surprising. Still, Goldman said Biden has options.

Learn more here.

Customs and Border Protection says wall workers winding down construction


U.S. Customs and Border Protection says footage released earlier this month showing construction trucks working along Arizona's border wall is part of safely suspending work, rather than continued construction on the bollard fence.

In January, President Joe Biden temporarily suspended all construction on his predecessor's 30-foot steel bollard wall and gave contractors seven days to comply with the order.

This month, environmental groups said they were still documenting open trenches and barbed wire left behind at sites.

A spokesperson with Customs and Border Protection said any work that is still ongoing is for site stabilization, including transporting heavy machinery and storing and securing wall materials.

Learn more here.

Grand Canyon Protection Act passes House


A bill to permanently protect the Grand Canyon from mining in the future has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill, introduced by Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva, permanently withdraws about 1 million acres of federal land around Grand Canyon National Park from mining claims, while leaving existing claims alone.

Grijalva said the measure would protect one of the nation's most beloved public lands and the Colorado River from possible contamination from uranium mining.

Learn more here.

Economics drives glass recycling


As of Feb. 1, the City of Tucson stopped curbside pick up of recycled glass, but recycling of the material continues.

Tucson’s glass is not going to the landfill, but economics drove the city’s decision to stop picking up the product with other curbside recyclables.

The city is trying to create its own local market for the used glass that does not involve a recycling contract with an outside company.

Learn more here.

Arizona reports 1,621 additional COVID-19 cases, 83 deaths


PHOENIX — Arizona reported 1,621 additional COVID-19 cases and 83 deaths on Friday as the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations continued to drop.

According to the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 1,354 COVID-19 patients occupied inpatient beds on Thursday. That's down from the pandemic high of 5,082 on Jan. 11.

In another development, The Daily Courier reports that Dignity Health-Yavapai Regional Medical Center is beginning to lift its ban on non-emergency elective surgeries and to relax its ban on visitation at its Prescott and Prescott Valley hospitals.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports 45 new COVID-19 cases, 9 more deaths


WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation health officials on Thursday reported 45 new confirmed COVID-19 cases with nine additional deaths.

The latest numbers bring the total number of cases on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to 29,655 since the pandemic began. There have been 1,161 reported deaths that were related to COVID-19.

The Navajo Department of Health on Monday identified 21 communities with uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 from Feb. 5-18. That’s an increase from last week’s 15 communities, but down from 75 communities with uncontrolled coronavirus spread last month.

Learn more here.

Gov. Ducey To Decide If Arizona Accepts Consular IDs Again

Fronteras Desk

State, county and city officials may soon again be allowed to accept identification cards issued by foreign consulates, as long as the IDs meet certain security standards. It’s up to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey whether to strike a decade-old law banning them.

The bill would once again make consular IDs valid in the eyes of the state, as long as the issuing foreign government takes fingerprints and does retina scans of each holder.

Mexican consular IDs have these security features, said Jorge Mendoza Yescas, Mexico’s consul general in Phoenix. He said Ducey should give much weight to the economic ties between Arizona and its southern neighbor when making his decision.

Arizona barred state and local officials from accepting consular IDs in 2011.

Learn more here.

Tribes in legal limbo over federal virus relief funding


FLAGSTAFF — Nearly a year after Congress passed a coronavirus relief bill, some Native American tribes are still in legal limbo over what's been distributed.

The issue didn't become any more clear this week for three tribes who argued in a federal court hearing that they should get quick relief because they were shortchanged by the use of federal population data.

The Treasury Department has doled out all but about $530 million from the $8 billion set aside for tribes in the CARES Act. Where it goes depends on the outcome of two cases in a federal district court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Learn more here.

Native American nominee's grilling raises questions on bias


FLAGSTAFF — The confirmation hearing for Deb Haaland has raised questions about whether she's being treated differently because she is a Native American woman.

Some Republican, white senators have labeled Haaland as “radical” over her calls to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and address climate change. Those who support the Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico say Haaland is being attacked for her ethnicity and beliefs that are widespread among Native Americans.

She would become the first Native American to lead the Interior Department.

Republicans expressed frustration at her lack of specifics during the hearing and say it's not about race.

Learn more here.

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