/ Modified may 13, 2021 3:54 p.m.

News roundup: Navajo Nation opposes new voting law, Tucson to receive over $135 million in federal relief

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, May 13.

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 871,168 | Deaths 17,438

On Thursday, May 13, Arizona reported 544 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths.

Navajo Nation opposes new law for unsigned mail-in ballots


Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill into law last week that only allows voters to fix unsigned mail-in ballots till Election Day. The Navajo Nation has been advocating for voters to have more time after an election to correct missing signatures for years.

The law, SB 1003, allows election officials to contact voters about unsigned ballots and voters to fix them till 7 p.m. on Election Day. If the ballot isn't corrected by then, it's not counted.

"The actions of certain state lawmakers and Gov. Ducey is belittling to all 22 Arizona tribes," Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a press release.

Learn more here.

City of Tucson to receive more than $135 million in federal COVID relief funds


The City of Tucson will receive more than $135 million in federal pandemic relief money through the American Rescue Plan, part of some $350 billion being distributed to state, local, territorial and tribal governments across the country.

Funds will go to continued COVID-19 mitigation efforts and other public health expenditures, food and other household aid, premium pay for essential workers, investments into water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, and economic recovery.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said the funding is an opportunity to improve conditions in the long term and to address immediate impacts with input from the community.

Learn more here.

Arizona's state-run sites opens vaccinations to kids 12-15


PHOENIX — Arizona’s seven state-run vaccination sites have started offering the Pfizer COVID-19 shot to kids ages 12-15.

Thursday's move followed actions by federal health regulators to expand emergency authorizations for the vaccine. Arizona has nearly 400,000 youths ages 12-15 and they represent nearly 5.6% of the state’s population.

The expanded availability applies only to the Pfizer vaccine, which until now has been only available to ages 16 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for people 18 and older.

Arizona has four state-run vaccination sites in metro Phoenix and one each in Flagstaff, Tucson and Yuma.

Learn more here.

Arizona imposes new fire restrictions in multiple counties


PHOENIX — A major public land management agency is joining others in imposing fire restrictions that will cover wide swaths of drought-stricken Arizona.

The state Department of Forestry and Fire Management announced Thursday it will implement additional restrictions across the central and northern portions of the state starting Friday. The restrictions apply to campfires, smoking, fireworks and welding.

The department said the additional restrictions cover land owned and managed by the state in Gila, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma counties along with the section of Coconino County south of the Colorado River.

Learn more here.

Arizona joins 12 GOP states in ending extra unemployment pay


PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is joining a growing number of Republican governors who are stopping payment of an extra $300 a week to unemployed workers as a way to force people to return to work.

Thursday's announcement ends the use of federal virus relief funds for that payment and goes into effect in July. It means unemployed Arizonans will again get $240 a week, the second-lowest weekly rate in the nation.

Ducey is continuing federally sponsored programs that extend the standard 26 weeks of pay by another 29 weeks and allow gig workers such as Uber drivers to qualify for unemployment payments.

Ducey is enticing workers with a $2,000 bonus for getting a full-time job.

Learn more here.

Arizona Senate Republicans sign lease to continue vote audit


PHOENIX — Republicans in the Arizona Senate have signed a lease to continue their slow-moving audit of the 2020 election results in Maricopa County.

The Senate and its contractors had rented the Veterans Memorial Coliseum through Friday but only got through a fraction of the 2.1 million ballots they are recounting.

The old arena is booked for high school graduations next week. The ballots, computers and other equipment will be stored elsewhere at the state fairgrounds. The Senate will regain access to the coliseum on May 23 and have it through the end of June.

Republicans are recounting ballots in Arizona's largest county and looking into baseless conspiracy theories suggesting there were problems with the 2020 election.

Learn more here.

Bill legalizing drug-testing strips heads to Ducey's desk


PHOENIX — The Arizona House has approved a bill legalizing test strips that can detect the presence of the potent opiate fentanyl and potentially help avoid deadly overdoses.

The measure already unanimously passed the Senate, so Thursday’s 48-11 House vote sends it to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey for his consideration.

The measure by Democratic Sen. Christine Marsh was prompted by last year’s death of her 25-year-old son, Landon Marsh.

She testified in February that he made a stupid mistake when he took what he thought was a prescription pain pill and died of a fentanyl overdose. She says a stupid mistake should not cost a life.

Learn more here.

Poll: For unvaccinated Latinos, hesitancy isn't the problem


WASHINGTON — Many Latinos are forgoing COVID-19 shots because of concerns about losing work hours, getting a bill, and for some, immigration worries.

That’s according to a new poll that offers insights into how to raise vaccination rates among the nation’s largest ethnic minority. Out Thursday, the Kaiser Family Foundation Vaccine Monitor poll finds that many Hispanics who remain unvaccinated actually want a shot.

In fact, they reported far less vaccine hesitancy than their white or Black counterparts.

One in 3 unvaccinated Latino adults said they want to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. That was twice the share as among unvaccinated white adults or Blacks.

Learn more here.

Drought In Mexico Puts Millions Of Acres Of Crops At Risk

Fronteras Desk

More than 2 million acres of irrigated crops could be at risk in Mexico because of a lack of water. Neighboring Sonora is among the worst hit.

A new report from Mexico’s agricultural agency shows that as of the end of March, more than half of the country’s 4.3 million acres of unharvested irrigated crops are at risk of being lost due to water shortages.

Eighty-five percent of the country is currently experiencing drought conditions. And Sonora is among three states at the highest risk of seeing crops destroyed, according to the report.

Learn more here.

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