/ Modified mar 8, 2021 3:54 p.m.

News roundup: Vaccine rolls out across tribal lands, UA president voices support for basketball coach

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, March 8.

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 827,237 | Deaths 16,328

On Monday, March 8, Arizona reported 783 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout across AZ tribal lands


Indian Health Services, the agency responsible for providing health care to federally recognized tribes, reported 196,745 COVID-19 vaccine doses would be delivered throughout Arizona by last week.

Indigenous peoples in the U.S. have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last summer that Native Americans were contracting COVID-19 3.5 times more than non-Hispanic whites.

Holly Van Lew is a pharmacist at Phoenix Indian Medical Center. She said in Arizona there's been a significant case rate and number of hospitalizations and deaths.

Learn more here.

UA Basketball Coach gets support from university president


University of Arizona President Robert Robbins unequivocally backed men’s basketball coach Sean Miller on Monday.

“We’re eager to move forward and get the final chapter of this now, almost four-year sage over. But Coach Miller is our coach,” said Robbins during his weekly news conference.

On Friday, the university released the Notice of Allegations it received from the NCAA last fall, which includes five Level I violations, considered the most serious offenses by the governing body for college sports.

Learn more here.

Desert Lab on Tumamoc Hill begins new phase of community outreach


Starting today, an old house on the east side of the Tumamoc Hill road will be demolished to make way for new gardens. Ben Wilder, director of the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, said in its place they will create a "forward-looking" community space that has dual benefits:

"Creating a space that is one, enjoyable and pleasant to be in, and two, provides answers and tools to address the question of 'how do we live in a hotter and drier future?'" Wilder said.

The first stage of the garden plan involves building two new shade houses for agaves and other native plants. Eventually, the Desert Laboratory will also construct a backyard kitchen garden and other elements on the site.

Learn more here.

Arizona reports fewer than 1,000 daily coronavirus cases


PHOENIX — Arizona is reporting a daily number of new coronavirus cases below 1,000 for the first time in months along with no new deaths.

State health officials on Monday said there were 783 new known cases of the virus. The latest figure brings the state’s pandemic total to 827,237 known cases and 16,328 deaths.

More than 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Arizona with more than 711,000 receiving both doses. The numbers of confirmed or suspected hospitalized coronavirus patients and in ICUs also dipped.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested.

Learn more here.

Navajo Nation reports 7 new COVID-19 cases, 3 more deaths


WINDOW ROCK — The Navajo Nation has reported seven additional COVID-19 cases and three more deaths from the virus.

As of Sunday, the tribe has reported 29,866 confirmed cases and 1,201 deaths from the virus since the pandemic began a year ago.

Health facilities on the reservation and in border towns are conducting drive-thru vaccine events or administering doses by appointment. The Navajo-area Indian Health Service has vaccinated more than 135,000 people so far.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says home is still the safest place for people despite the relaxing of some restrictions in neighboring states, including Arizona.

Learn more here.

Pima County judge on leave; Allegedly fired shot at stalker


A Pima County justice of the peace has been placed on administrative leave after allegedly firing a warning shot at an unarmed stalking suspect.

The Arizona Daily Star reports authorities are investigating a criminal case that could test the limits on when it’s legal to fire a gun in Arizona.

According to the newspaper, 59-year-old Adam Watters is under investigation for firing what he called a “warning shot” at a man outside his Tucson home last month. Public records show 38-year-old Fei Qin later was arrested on suspicion of felony stalking for allegedly driving by Watters’ house repeatedly and leaving litter in his yard.

The Star reports Qin is a Tucson landlord and recently had an eviction case handled by Watters in the county's Justice Court.

Learn more here.

Worker died after being struck by railroad maintenance gear


VAIL — Investigators say a Union Pacific Railroad employee who died five weeks ago in an on-the-job accident in southern Arizona was struck by a piece of maintenance equipment that’s used to tamp on wood crossties that sit underneath tracks.

In a preliminary report released Monday, the National Transportation Safety Board said Union Pacific employee James Morgan was inspecting crossties on Jan. 31 near Vail, Arizona, and had been walking between the rails and the front of the machinery, which sat on top of the tracks.

Another person who was operating the equipment tried to stop at another crosstie but continued going forward and struck Morgan.

Learn more here.

Letter: U.S. Representatives Urge Cooperation On Mexican Security, Human Rights Issues

Fronteras Desk

Nineteen U.S. representatives have sent a letter to the secretary of state urging cooperation with Mexico on security and human rights issues.

Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva was one of the sponsors of the letter, which raises concerns about high rates of impunity, human rights violations, rising violence and the increasing use of the military in Mexico.

“The letter says in clear terms that militarization, the deployment of the military in policing tasks, which has now been ongoing for the last over 14 years, throughout three presidential administrations in Mexico, that has not worked,” said Stephanie Brewer, director for Mexico and migrant rights at the Washington Office on Latin America.

Learn more here.

Arizona Reauthorizes Acceptance Of Consular IDs

Fronteras Desk

Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill to let state, county and city officials once again accept identification cards issued by foreign consulates, as long as the issuing government takes fingerprints and does retina scans of each holder.

Consular IDs had been banned for a decade. They are often carried by undocumented people.

In a letter to the Arizona secretary of state, Ducey praised the bipartisan bill for making the public and law enforcement more safe.

He wrote that accepting the IDs does not come with new rights or responsibilities for noncitizens. It just means the state will take consular IDs from countries with strict biometric techniques.

Rocky Point Mayor: ‘High Probability’ Border Travel Restrictions Will Be Lifted In March

Fronteras Desk

The mayor of the popular Sonoran beach town Puerto Peñasco, or Rocky Point, says he’s been informed by U.S. officials that it’s possible border travel restrictions could end later this month.

Mayor Kiko Munro said there’s a “high probability” that restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border will be lifted by late March — information he says came from a Lukeville port official.

In a press release Thursday, Munro called the potential reopening “good news for Mexicans and Rocky Point residents."

Learn more here.

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