/ Modified apr 28, 2021 3:56 p.m.

News roundup: UA moves toward sustainable energy, experts predict busy hurricane season

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, April 28.

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 860,772 | Deaths 17,282

On Wednesday, April 28, Arizona reported 603 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths.

UA ready to have all purchased renewable power in May


Within a week, the University of Arizona can say 100% of its purchased energy is from renewable sources.

May 1 marks the start of an agreement with Tucson Electric Power to provide the UA with energy from a wind farm near Roswell, New Mexico and a solar-plus-storage system southeast of Tucson. Trevor Ledbetter, the director for the UA Office of Sustainability, said about 60% of the university's total energy will come from TEP.

The university uses enough energy to power about 22,000 average American homes, and Ledbetter estimates the energy that will be procured from this agreement will be similar to that needed to power about 13,000 homes.

Learn more here.

Hurricane predictors forecast busy 2021 season


A University of Arizona research group with a reputation for accurately predicting the number of hurricanes each year is out with its latest forecast. The team is expecting eight named hurricanes for the north Atlantic this season, with four of them ranging in strength from category 3 through 5.

UA atmospheric scientist Xubin Zeng says a pattern toward stronger storms is in place but more annual data must be collected before attributing increased hurricane action to climate change.

The group has accurately forecast hurricanes almost every year since it began its studies in 2014.

Learn more here.

Ducey signs abortion bill


Governor Doug Ducey signed SB 1457 Tuesday, which prohibits abortions based solely on genetic abnormalities like Down syndrome.

The bill makes it a felony for a doctor who performs that abortion. It does not charge the woman.

The bill failed earlier this year but was brought back to the floor after a compromise was reached with a lone, holdout Republican.

Part of the compromise language changed the bill to allow for abortions if the genetic abnormality would lead to a “lethal fetal condition.” That is defined in Arizona law as a condition that would cause the fetus to die within three months of birth.

Learn more here.

School board ends meeting as parents protest mask mandate


VAIL — A Tucson-area school board ended a study session and then canceled a scheduled regular meeting after numerous parents protested the district’s refusal to lift its COVID-19-related mask mandate.

After Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Aug. 19 lifted a statewide mask mandate for schools, the Vail Unified School District kept its mandate in place and the district planned to review its policies Tuesday.

An afternoon study session was underway when protesting parents, many not wearing masks, pushed their way into the board room.

Sheriff’s deputies were summoned to help keep order but the board adjourned the study session and canceled the scheduled regular meeting.

Learn more here.

Ducey calls for US action on water contamination near bases


PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey is calling on the federal government to identify and treat groundwater contamination near four current and former military air bases in metro Phoenix and Tucson.

Ducey's office said Wednesday that he wrote Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about contaminants found in water near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, the former Williams Air Force Base in Williams and the Arizona Air National Guard base at Tucson International Airport.

Ducey's letter dated Tuesday cited contamination involving chemicals used in firefighting materials and called for steps to protect public drinking water systems.

Learn more here.

Arizona confirms 603 new COVID-19 cases, another 6 deaths


PHOENIX — Arizona is reporting 603 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and six deaths. The latest daily figures released Wednesday by the state Department of Health Services bring the overall pandemic totals to 860,772 cases and 17,282 deaths.

The number of patients hospitalized statewide for virus-related reasons rose slightly to 622 with 190 of those in the ICU.

Meanwhile, state health officials are heavily promoting vaccinations with thousands of appointments at state-run sites still available. To further appeal to residents, Arizona announced Tuesday that walk-ins are now being accepted at state sites in metro Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and Yuma.

Nearly 2.9 million people have had at least one vaccine shot.

Learn more here.

Judge won't block Arizona Senate's 2020 election recount


PHOENIX — A judge is refusing to shut down the Republican-led Arizona Senate’s recount of 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 election in the state’s most populous county.

But Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Martin ordered ballot secrecy and voter privacy procedures the Senate's contractor is using be made public, barring an appeal.

Wednesday's decision was both a loss and a win for the Arizona Democratic Party. Its lawyers argued the Senate's secrecy put voter privacy at risk and wanted the recount halted or at least the policies made public. Lawyers for the Senate say no voter information is at risk.

The recount is now in its sixth day.

Learn more here.

Arizona advances bills limiting civilian oversight of cops


PHOENIX — Arizona lawmakers are moving to limit the role of civilians in reviewing police misconduct.

The Senate on Wednesday approved several measures backed by police unions in the wake of a national reckoning over racial injustice.

Senate Republicans approved a bill requiring that sworn officers control at least two thirds of the seats on police review boards. The Senate also backed a measure requiring 80 hours of law enforcement training for civilians on review boards.

Republicans say officers should be evaluated by peers who know the challenges of the job. Civil rights advocates say the measures are a step back from the growing trend of having civilians oversee police discipline to ensure public accountability.

Learn more here.

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